Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sundance with Abe: A Futile and Stupid Gesture

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the fifth time. I’m seeing as many movies as I can each day and will post reviews of each as I can.

A Futile and Stupid Gesture
Directed by David Wain

In every generation, there are individual actors who have an influence on cinema, but also groups known more for their collective work than they may be on their own. In the late 1970s and the 1980s, National Lampoon was one such brand that, beginning with “Animal House,” came to define comedy. Their humor may not have been overly sophisticated, but it’s hard to deny that it could be very funny. As expected, exploring the origins of National Lampoon and everything that led up to the filming of the first movie proves enormously worthwhile, as is clear from the incredible talent assembled to star in the film.

Members of the cast and crew discuss the film

Doug Kenney (Will Forte) attends Harvard, where he immediately meets Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson), and the two begin working together on the Harvard Lampoon, the university’s humor magazine. When they graduate, Doug convinces Henry to postpone law school to create a spinoff publication. After convincing a publisher (Matt Walsh) to take a chance on them, Doug and Henry navigate a wild ride filled with drugs, controversial jokes, and every big name in comedy as they make their dreams come true.

David Wain and members of the cast discuss the film

Director David Wain is best known for the film “Wet Hot American Summer,” which exaggerates summer camp life into a cult classic. This film, while certainly absurd, is far more grounded in the comedy produced by National Lampoon as a magazine, and watching it portrayed on screen is endlessly entertaining. The structure is purposefully tongue-in-cheek, featuring Martin Mull as a self-described narrative device, anchoring the story and confessing when some casting decisions, like Joel McHale as Chevy Chase, should be excused since they’re well aware that they look nothing alike (and that star Will Forte isn’t 27).

Joel McHale, Emmy Rossum, and Domnhall Gleeson discuss the film

So many members of this talented cast, including Mull, Gleeson, Walsh, Elvy Yost, Thomas Lennon, Joel McHale, and Emmy Rossum, were on stage following the film’s premiere at Sundance this past Wednesday to discuss this hilarious movie. It’s truly amazing to see so many of today’s working comedians in this film, and the result is a resounding, laugh-out-loud film that never ceases to be amusing. Fortunately, there’s no need to wait for this one to be acquired or purchased for eventual release, since it’s available to watch on Netflix as of this past Friday. Even if you’re not a fan of National Lampoon, or familiar with their work, don’t waste any time in sitting down to watch and laugh at this movie.


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