Star-Studded Screwball Comedy On Netflix Will Make You Laugh Until You Cry

By TeeJay Small | Published

a futile and stupid gesture

If you’re a big fan of the classic comedy of the 1980s and 1990s, you likely have National Lampoon to thank for that. While the brilliant comedic minds of performers such as Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Dan Aykroyd have been lauded and celebrated after launching their careers through National Lampoon, the magazine-turned-film production studio’s founder has largely been left uncredited. The founder, Douglas Kenney, is finally credited for his pioneering comedy in the 2018 Netflix original film A Futile and Stupid Gesture, which tells the tale of his life story through a series of blurred memories.

A Futile And Stupid Gesture

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

A Futile and Stupid Gesture was written by the duo of Michael Colton and John Aboud, who previously penned The Penguins of Madagascar, and adapts the biography of Doug Kenney written by Josh Karp. The film first premiered at Sundance Film Festival before appearing on Netflix’s streaming library, where it remains available to view to this day. Wet Hot American Summer‘s David Wain directed the movie, which touts a massive cast of comedy legends, portraying young iterations of their own comedy idols.

Epic Impersonations Of Comedy Legends

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

The film’s cast of performers includes Will Forte, Domhnall Gleeson, Seth Green, Ed Helms, Thomas Lennon, Joe Lo Truglio, Emmy Rossum, Natasha Lyonne, and many others. Bill Murray, Jon Belushi, Harold Ramis, Ed Sullivan, Lorne Michaels, and Rodney Dangerfield are characters in A Futile and Stupid Gesture, with some of their comedy proteges delivering hilarious and dead-on impressions of their comedic style along the way. Joel McHale even gets the chance to appear in the film as his Community co-star Chevy Chase, providing a fun full-circle moment for fans of the beloved NBC sitcom.

You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry, You’ll Do The Leo Thing

I won’t give away too much information regarding the plot of A Futile and Stupid Gesture because the film takes a few twists and turns along the way that are better experienced spoiler-free. Suffice is to say, the movie has a lot of laughs, a lot of heart, and plenty of cameos that will make you recreate the Leonardo DiCaprio pointing at the TV meme. There’s also a surprising amount of emotional depth to the slapstick comedy, which might leave you in tears when it’s all said and done.

The Story Behind The Story

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

Simply put, the narrative of A Futile and Stupid Gesture centers on Doug Kenney as he and his college classmate Henry Beard launch the National Lampoon. The magazine first began as an offshoot of Harvard’s century-old on-campus humor publication the Harvard Lampoon, before expanding out into radio broadcasts, feature films, and a wide variety of other comedic ventures. As the film continues, Doug becomes a victim to several of the pitfalls of the entertainment industry, including rampant perfectionism, drug use, and infidelity within his marriage.

Breaking The Fourth Wall

A Futile and Stupid Gesture


The whole story is told through a frame narrative, with the elderly, modern day Doug Kenney admitting that his memory of most of the events described is spotty at best. As a result, the film plays fast and loose with narrative structure, fourth wall breaks, and a few funky casting choices that will have you cackling in your living room. If you’re interested in getting a few good laughs in, with a little side of heartbreak, A Futile and Stupid Gesture is available to stream on Netflix today.