It’s fitting that David Wain’s upcoming, Sundance-bound biopic “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” appears to ably — and amusingly — blend fact and fiction to serve up a unique slice of mostly-true goodness. The film, which will debut on Netflix next month, follows the real-life exploits of Doug Kenney (played by Will Forte, with Martin Mull stepping in to play an older version), “National Lampoon” co-founder and “Caddyshack” and “Animal House” screenwriter.
As Entertainment Weekly notes, “His comic seeds blossomed everywhere, and then…he was gone, a victim of his own excesses and inner demons.” (While Mull plays an older Kenney, he actually died back in 1980, at the age of 33.)
When it comes to his inspiration for making the film, it was easy, as Wain told EW, “You could argue that Doug was the spark plug of [the ’70s comedy revolution]. He was a real inventor of something that has had deep and wide lasting value for anybody who enjoys or makes comedy.”
Wain and his screenwriters Michael Colton and John Aboud adapted Josh Karp’s 2006 book of the same name, with the addition of their own research and personal interviews. Producers Peter Principato and Jonathan Stern were also key to shepherding the feature to the big screen, hammering away at it for nearly a decade.
“The whole task of the movie was terrifying in that way, in that we’re laying down the story of something that is important to a lot of people,” Wain told EW. “Memory is so elastic and people have wildly different recollections of even very objective facts. So we just listened to everybody and then we created a story.”
Forte is joined in the film by a slew of big names, many of them playing even bigger names, like Joel McHale taking over as Chevy Chase. Domhnall Gleeson also has a juicy role, playing Kenney’s long-time “Lampoon” partner and former Harvard classmate Henry Beard. The rest of the cast is kitted out with stars like Thomas Lennon, Matt Walsh, Seth Green, Natasha Lyonne, and Emmy Rossum.
Check out the first trailer for “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” below.
The movie will premiere at Sundance next month, and will then be available to stream on Netflix on January 26.