While struck down by a cold last month, I watched “A Futile and Stupid Gesture,” the new Netflix-produced film about the tragic rise and fall of National Lampoon founder Doug Kenney, played by Will Forte.
Of course there never would have been a National Lampoon without Harvard Lampoon, and one of the film’s first scenes is a freshman mixer in 1964, smack in the middle of the heyday. In this scene Doug is wearing a white OCBD with a narrow repp tie and narrow lapel tartan jacket (plus a tag with a hand-drawn phallus in place of the name, which isn’t so Ivy). The brief scene ends with Doug throwing a handful of broccoli at a group of preppies he dubs “The Barry Goldwater Fan Club,” who are wearing OCBDs and odd jackets.
The next scene cuts to a campus party in 1968, with the fall in full acceleration. As a senior Doug now has long, unkempt hair, prompting his date to ask, “You’re not really a preppie, are you? You’re note a hippie either,” to which he sarcastically replies, “Both: I’m a prippie.”
The rest of the 141 minutes is big hair and bad ’70s styling, save for a brief scene on the set of “Animal House”. Despite penning such hits, Kenney’s life doesn’t go precisely as planned, and the more fervent reactionaries among us might wonder if a soft collar roll and a trip to the barber could have set things right.
Check out the trailer here. — ERIC TWARDZIK