Film Review: “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon”

Written by Film, Film Reviews

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National Lampoon: Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead is the no-bullshit story of the most influential humor magazine to ever exist.  Co-founded by Douglas Kenney, Henry Beard and Douglas Hoffman, this magazine was irreverent, forward-thinking, risk-taking, ballsy and of its time – unafraid to make fun of the culture of the day, the government and anything else deemed to be transparent nonsense.  National Lampoon took chances on topics, spoofs on advertising and on talent, which is the most crucial element to their story.  From writers to designers to actors (who took some of the written material to the radio and the stage), National Lampoon magazine was a pool filled with talent – talents who, to this day, have become loved and revered icons.  Amongst the names that came from National Lampoon include Michael O’Donoghue, P.J. O’Rourke, Tony Hendra, John Hughes, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Joe Flaherty – the list is literally endless.

The film, directed by Douglas Tirola, tells the story in a linear fashion, with tales of the magazine’s earliest days; its ascent into popularity (especially in “hipper”/more informed circles), its array of talent, the ego clashes, the drugs – nothing is spared and nothing is made to sound pretty and in the end, tells very little of its decline – which occurred officially in 1998.  But in this movie, you hear it from most of the contributors and performers themselves (those who are still alive) and you can hear the warmth and emotion coming forth as their memories describe a free-for-all dream come true for anyone who was a participant.

In my earliest teens, I made the natural transition from the goofiness of Mad magazine to the more subversive National Lampoon and I loved it.  I loved the parodies, the sharp wit and the artwork that went with it all.  National Lampoon was a creative, vital force that has had long-ranging affect (where would a good portion of modern comedy be without it?) and this movie captures quite nicely how important National Lampoon truly was.

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National Lampoon: Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead can currently be seen in theatres and on pay-per-view, etc.

http://www.magpictures.com/nationallampoon/