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Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

With a feel for the outrageous, it celebrates a rudeness that’s in short supply.

Charting a transition from Harvard campus newsletter to a national brand that encompassed movies, albums, tours and books, Douglas Tirola’s upbeat doc on National Lampoon already feels essential for celebrating a hard-fought moment of American comic subversion. The gang, which included John Belushi, Harold Ramis and a brilliant team of writers and artists, lived hard and suffered consequences, but it went as far as it could go.

Generously funded in 1969 by a former credit-card exec (Matty Simmons, the kind of deep-pocketed imp who rarely exists these days), the evolving magazine sharpened its bite. Firing its original hippie art director, Lampoon took on a new stylist, Michael Gross, who brought photorealism to soon-to-be-classic covers like “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Wildly inappropriate content earned them a huge fan base, cresting at a million-copy circulation. And as argued by talking heads like Judd Apatow, a new generation was inspired to follow its raunchy nose. 

Tirola’s punchy timeline hits the breaks at the ’80s flameout, wobbling in its handling of self-destructive editor Doug Kenney. But until the defunct Lampoon starts magically reappearing in your mailbox, this excellently titled pic will do nicely.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

Joshua Rothkopf
Written by
Joshua Rothkopf

Release Details

  • Duration:98 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Douglas Tirola
  • Screenwriter:Douglas Tirola, Mark Monroe
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