No Safe Space: Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of The National Lampoon (2015, directed by Douglas Tirola)


Drunk_Stoned_Brilliant_Dead_PosterThe documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead pays tribute to National Lampoon.  Founded in 1970, National Lampoon was published for 28 years and, at the height of its popularity, its sensibility redefined American comedy.  When it came to National Lampoon, nothing was sacred and nothing was off-limits.  The success of National Lampoon led to a stage show called Lemmings and The National Lampoon Radio Hour, which featured everyone from John Belushi and Bill Murray to Chevy Chase and Harold Ramis.  Michael O’Donoghue, famed for his impersonations of celebrities having needless inserted into their eyes, went from writing for the Lampoon to serving as Saturday Night Live‘s first head writer.  National Lampoon’s Animal House, Vacation, and Caddyshack are three of the most influential film comedies ever made.  Everyone from P.J. O’Rourke to John Hughes to The Simpsons‘ Al Jean got their start at National Lampoon.

As influential as it was, National Lampoon is a magazine that would not be able to exist today’s world.  Just looking at the cover of most issues of National Lampoon would reduce today’s special little snowflakes to the point of hysteria.  In Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, National Lampoon‘s publisher claims that the Lampoon ultimately ceased publication because the religious right threatened to boycott any company that advertised in the magazine.  Today, it would be the “safe space” crowd complaining that the magazine did not come with proper trigger warnings.  Lena Dunham would look at one issue and go into a rage spiral.  Salon would publish a hundred hand-wringing think pieces about how National Lampoon was the worst thing since Ted Cruz.  Colleges would ban it and religious groups would still burn it.  National Lampoon was a magazine that went out of its way to be offensive to both the left and the right but, as editor-in-chief Tony Hendra puts it, the job of satire is to make those in power feel uncomfortable.  By poking fun at everything and challenging its readers, National Lampoon exposed the absurdity behind both the country’s prejudices and some of its most sacred beliefs.

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Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead follows the National Lampoon from its founding to its ignominious end.  Along with interviews with Lampoon alumni, it also features archival footage of both Lemmings and The Radio Show, providing glimpses of  Christopher Guest, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Harold Ramis before they became famous.  There are also interviews with celebrity admirers of the Lampoon who talk about how the magazine inspired their own work.  It makes sense that Judd Apatow was interviewed and Kevin Bacon made his screen debut in Animal House but what was Billy Bob Thornton doing there?

Unfortunately, drunk, stoned, brilliant, and dead describes some of the most important and talented figures in the Lampoon‘s history.  The documentary especially focuses on Doug Kenney, the Lampoon’s co-founder.  Everyone interviewed agrees that Kenney was a comedic genius who was also often emotionally troubled and who would vanish for months on end.  After the initial critical failure of Caddyshack, Kenney disappeared in Hawaii.  His body was later discovered at the bottom of the cliff.  Did Kenney jump or did he slip or, as director John Landis suggests, was he murdered by a drug dealer?  Nobody seems to know but Kenney’s ghost haunts the documentary.  This collection of very funny people get very serious when it comes time to talk about Kenney’s death.  Even Chevy Chase briefly redeems himself after years of bad publicity when he gets choked up.

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead is tribute to both a magazine and a bygone era.  See it before it gets banned.

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For Whatever They’re Worth, Here are The Satellite Awards Nominees!


Sicario_poster

The International Press Academy has announced the nominees for the Satellite Awards!  Who are the International Press Academy?  They’re kind of like an even less credible version of the Golden Globes.  They’re also the same people who, last year, nominated The Wolf of Wall Street for five awards, despite having not seen the film.  I would suggest viewing these nominations more as a guide to conventional wisdom than anything else.

Motion Picture
Spotlight, Open Road
Sicario, Lionsgate
Room, A24
The Revenant, 20th Century Fox
The Martian, 20th Century Fox
Carol, The Weinstein Co.
Brooklyn, Fox Searchlight
Bridge of Spies, DreamWorks
Black Mass, Warner Bros.
The Big Short, Paramount

Director
Tom Hooper, The Danish Girl
Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight
Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies
Ridley Scott, The Martian
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant

Actress in a Motion Picture
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Carey Mulligan, Suffragette
Brie Larson, Room
Blythe Danner, I’ll See You in My Dreams

Actor in a Motion Picture
Will Smith, Concussion
Tom Hardy, Legend
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Johnny Depp, Black Mass
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Actress in a Supporting Role
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Jane Fonda, Youth
Elizabeth Banks, Love & Mercy
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Actor in a Supporting Role
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario

Motion Picture, International Film
South Korea, The Throne
Brazil, The Second Mother
Croatia, The High Sun
Belgium, The Brand New Testament
Taiwan, The Assassin
Hungary, Son of Saul
France, Mustang
Germany, Labyrinth of Lies
Austria, Goodnight Mommy
Sweden, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media
The Prophet
The Peanuts Movie
The Good Dinosaur
Shaun The Sheep Movie
Inside Out
Anomalisa

Motion Picture, Documentary
Where to Invade Next
The Look of Silence
The Hunting Ground
He Named Me Malala
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead:The Story of the National Lampoon
Cartel Land
Best of Enemies
Becoming Bulletproof
Amy

Screenplay, Original
Josh Singer, Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight
Michael A. Lerner, Oren Moverman, Love & Mercy
Josh Cooley, Meg LeFauve, Pete Docter, Inside Out
Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, Straight Outta Compton
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Matt Charman, Bridge of Spies
Abi Morgan, Suffragette

Screenplay, Adapted
Jez Butterworth, Mark Mallouk, Black Mass
Lucinda Coxon, The Danish Girl
Emma Donoghue, Room
Drew Goddard, The Martian
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mark L. Smith, The Revenant
Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs

Original Score
Thomas Newman, Spectre
Michael Giacchino, Inside Out
Howard Shore, Spotlight
Harry Gregson-Williams, The Martian
Carter Burwell, Carol
Alexander Desplat, The Danish Girl

Original Song
“Writing’s On The Wall”, Spectre
“Till It Happens To You”, The Hunting Ground
“See You Again”, Furious 7
“One Kind Of Love”, Love & Mercy
“Love Me Like You Do”, Fifty Shades of Grey
“Cold One”, Ricki and the Flash

Cinematography
Roger Deakins, Sicario
John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road
Hoyte Van Hoytema, Spectre
Dariuz Wolski, The Martian
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant

Visual Effects
Spectre
The Walk
The Martian
Mad Max: Fury Road
Jurassic World
Everest

Film Editing
Pietro Scalia, The Martian
Joe Walker, Sicario
Michael Kahn, Bridge of Spies
Lee Smith, Spectre
Elliot Graham, Steve Jobs
Affonso Goncalves, Carol

Sound (Editing and Mixing)
The Martian
Spectre
Sicario
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
Jurassic World

Art Direction and Production Design
Fiona Crombie, Macbeth
Eve Stewart, The Danish Girl
Dennis Gassner, Spectre
Dante Ferretti, Cinderella
Colin Gibson, Mad Max: Fury Road,
Adam Stockhausen, Bridge of Spies

Costume Design
Wen-Ying Huang, The Assassin
Shim Hyun-seob, The Throne
Sandy Powell, Cinderella
Paco Delgado, The Danish Girl
Janet Patterson, Far From the Madding Crowd
Jacqueline Durran, Macbeth

Ensemble: Motion Picture
Spotlight

Sicario

At least these nominations gave me an excuse to drag out some Sicaro-related media.