Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon

For a few years in the early 70s, the Ivy League titty humor of National Lampoon magazine was the hippest thing in American comedy, spawning hit albums, a syndicated radio hour, and an off-Broadway show starring John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Christopher Guest. This prosaic talking-heads documentary by Douglas Tirola surveys the brand’s history from the mid-60s, when the magazine debuted as an offshoot of the Harvard Lampoon, to the 70s and 80s, when the Lampoon brain trust connected at the box office with such comedies as Animal House and Vacation. Like the recent Saturday Night Live documentary Live From New York!, the movie is an orgy of boomer self-congratulation—yet it lacks even that movie’s ironic notation of how a bastion of white-male privilege managed to pass itself off as radical. Of the Lampoon players who went on to bigger things, only Chevy Chase puts in an appearance; among the other interviewees are Judd Apatow, Kevin Bacon, Tim Matheson, P.J. O’Rourke, Anne Beatts, and Tony Hendra.