Netflix has released the first trailer for their upcoming biopic A Futile & Stupid Gesture, starring Will Forte as comedy wunderkind Doug Kenney. While this icon might not necessarily be a household name, he co-created the National Lampoon magazine, along with co-writing comedy classic movies Caddyshack and Animal House. Kenney was at the center of the 70's comedy counter-culture which gave birth to Saturday Night Live and a whole generation's way of looking at the world. The trailer hints that the movie will take quite a unique approach, with Will Forte playing Doug Kenney in the 1970s, and Martin Mull playing the "modern-day" Doug Kenney... even though he's been dead for 37 years.
The trailer begins with someone asking Martin Mull, in character as "modern-day" Doug, who is asked by his interviewer if he could introduce himself as, "the man who changed comedy, but couldn't change himself," which lead Mull to respond with, "Really? Blow me." This biopic trailer then goes back to the early days of National Lampoon Magazine, including their infamous stunt where they threatened to kill a dog if people didn't buy the magazine. Their success lead to plenty of controversy, with Matt Walsh's Matty Simmons shown coming out of his office numerous times to reveal different groups protesting the magazine, such as the Catholics, feminists, Liz Minelli and much more.
As the magazine continued to enjoy a modicum of success, they started branching out into other mediums, with Doug Kenney co-writing the 1978 frat house classic Animal House and Caddyshack, and if you're a die-hard fan of Animal House, there is quite an amazing Easter Egg, hiding in plain sight. One of the scenes involves a studio tour guide, pointing out that this bungalow their tram is passing is where the Animal House creators are working on their next movie, Caddyshack. What's interesting is the woman who plays that studio tour guide is none other than Martha Smith, who played Babs Jansen in Animal House. At the end of Animal House, there is a sequence where it shows the future professions for all of the main characters... and Babs Jansen was a Universal Studios tour guide.
As for Martin Mull playing the "modern day" Doug Kenney, that's actually impossible, since he died in 1980 in Hawaii, when the cliff he was standing on collapsed, as he fell to his death at the age of 33. The trailer also gives us a glimpse at Jon Daly doing his rather spot-on impression of Bill Murray from Caddyshack. We also get brief glimpses at Joel Murray portraying Chevy Chase, ironic since they both starred together on the NBC sitcom Community, along with Jackie Tohn as Gilda Radner, with Martin Mull's Doug admitting that none of these actors look like the real-life actors they're playing, including Will Forte, who doesn't look like a 27-year-old Doug Kenney... and he doesn't look 27 years old period.
The film will have its World Premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2018, just two days before premiering on Netflix on January 26, 2018. David Wain directs from a screenplay by Michael Colton & John Aboud, with a cast that also includes Domhnall Gleeson as Doug's partner, Henry Beard, Emmy Rossum as Doug's girlfriend Kathryn Walker, Natasha Lyonne as comedy writer Ann Beatts, Thomas Lennon as Michael O'Donoghue, a National Lampoon writer who would go on to be the first head writer of Saturday Night Live. Peter Principato and Jonathan Stern are producing A Futile & Stupid Gesture for Principato-Young Entertainment and Abominable Pictures with David Wain, Michael Colton, John Aboud, Ed Helms, Ben Ormand, Sean McKittrick and Ted Hamm executive producing. Take a look at the first trailer and poster below, courtesy of Netflix YouTube.