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"A Futile and Stupid Gesture" (2018) - Netflix Original Movie Review

Hey everyone! Please join me, Kevin, in welcoming David Cuevas to the team as our newest contributor. This is his first review for this website, but please also check out his work on his own website -

As a person who doesn’t know much about National Lampoon and Douglas Kenny, A Futile and Stupid Gesture is a decent place to start if you want to learn more about the subject. While this Netflix Original production is entertaining to say the least, not much new material is added that can redeem itself more than decent. A film such as I, Tonya, which has a similar editing style and pace, succeeds in what it has to say. I, Tonya is one of those biopics which doesn’t stray too hard from both the factual and the fictional. It’s a solid blend of the two. However, with A Futile and Stupid Gesture, the only story the film tries to get across, is simply the life and success of famed National Lampoon star and creator, Douglas Kenny. Sure, it’s a decent, educational, and fun ride with plenty of interesting history throughout, but by the end of the production, it just left me wanting for more in the worst way possible.

Now, A Futile and Stupid Gesture is in no way the worst film of 2018. In fact, it has plenty of redeemable aspects. Will Forte looks and acts the part of Douglas Kenny. After watching the film, I went online to search for archival documents on Mr. Kenny. Similar to Natalie Portman’s performance in Jackie, Will Forte gave one heck of a performance in replicating the mannerisms and actions of this interesting character. Domhnall Gleeson gave a performance so great I didn’t even realize that the person I was looking at was him. The wigs, makeup, and most importantly the dialogue, is what made Gleeson’s performance so great. While some of the other actors in A Futile and Stupid Gesture were decent to say the least, they aren't quite noteworthy. Joel McHale, Thomas Lennon, Brian Lucas, and Brian Huskey did a fine job, but nothing about their performances really stood out. Same goes with more of the technical aspects of the film.

Cinematography-wise, A Futile and Stupid Gesture has some interesting shots and camera work. Unfortunately, the film does not take advantage of said unique camera techniques and stays with the same old boring shots. There were several scenes in the film in which some crazy camera angles could have helped in creating a mood and atmosphere. The same complaint goes to the costume and production design. While it does look the part, the pop funk and grooviness of the 1970s never really came to light. A film such as Free Fire which, mind you, only takes place in a warehouse, makes the setting of the 1970s more realistic due to its magnificent color coded costumes. Unfortunately, A Futile and Stupid Gesture does not do anything new with the material it’s given.

A Futile and Stupid Gesture is one of those films that you watch and forget about within a month. While there is some material in this picture to enjoy, most of it is filled up with contrived cliches and story beats you’ve probably seen before. In no way is this a bad film; it just isn’t a good one either. There is no need for or importance to this film. It’s just decent entertainment, similar to a bad issue of a National Lampoon Magazine.

FINAL SCORE: 2.5/5 - (Meh)

*All images belong to Netflix.

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