Submitted by Evan B
Doug dies after falling off a cliff in Hawaii (implied to be a suicide). The film ends with his spirit finding peace as his friends have a food fight during his funeral.
This film is a highly dramatized retelling of the life of Doug Kenney – the co-founder of National Lampoon and the writer of the films Animal House and Caddyshack. The movie expressly notes that it is dramatized as even contains a list of inaccuracies and changes the movie made to real life.
The film starts with Doug Kenney as a young boy being driven to his older brother’s funeral. The movie jumps to an elderly version of Doug (Martin Mull), who says that he hates when movies start with a tragic backstory. This elderly version of Doug comments in a meta 4th-wall breaking way on many of the film’s events.
Jumping to the future, a young adult Doug (Will Forte) meets Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson) at Harvard University. The pair reinvigorate a satirical on-campus humor magazine called the Harvard Lampoon and publish a book of Lord of the Rings puns. As graduation nears, Doug convinces Henry to join him in starting a nationwide humor magazine that they call the National Lampoon. This greatly upsets Doug’s conservative parents. Eventually, the pair find a publisher in Matty Simmons (Matt Walsh) and get to work.
The National Lampoon becomes wildly successful. Doug gets involved in all the usual trappings of fame – sex and drugs. As they grow in popularity, Doug expands operations into radio and tv. He gives first jobs to comedic talents like Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray and Christopher Guest. Doug strikes up a particularly close friendship with comedian Chevy Chase (Joel McHale). Eventually, Doug’s wife leaves him and he gets increasingly unhinged as the work piles up. Doug eventually leaves his job without warning, forcing Henry to run the entire company on his own. Upon Doug’s return, Henry and Doug force Matty to honor a contractual agreement to buy them out of the company (and keep them on as employees) and are paid millions of dollars. Henry immediately quits, noting that he promised Doug he’d quit if the National Lampoon stopped being fun. Henry is also bitter about Doug abandoning him.
Doug when he meets and falls in love with actress Kathryn Walker (Emmy Rossum). Matty proposes that National Lampoon make a film and the two of them (along with another writer) develop the idea for the movie Animal House. Doug is the main writer and gets a small acting role too. Animal House is a massive success, becoming the most profitable comedy of all time. However, not everything is great for Doug. Despite lavishing his parents with many gifts and a new house, they don’t respect his work. Another blow comes when much of the National Lampoon’s writing staff and actors (including Chevy) leave the Lampoon to join a new sketch comedy TV show – Saturday Night Live. Though Doug is offered a job with the show, he rejects it.
Doug is again overwhelmed by success and turns to heavy drug use. He ends his relationship with Matty and moves to LA. He writes the movie Caddyshack for Chevy Chase to star in. The movie is heavily interfered with by the studio, much to Doug’s displeasure. On the press tour, Doug reaches out to Henry. He asks for Henry to come join him in LA, but Henry politely declines as he is now a family man. Doug gets drunk, abandons Henry, and shows up to a press event where he insults Caddyshack and actor Rodney Dangerfield before passing out in front of his parents and the press. Caddyshack is somewhat of a flop upon its release.
Recognizing that Doug is in need of help, his friends and Kathryn send him to Hawaii. Chevy goes with him and, although the pair stay drug free for a week, they eventually succumb and buy a bunch of cocaine. Chevy eventually leaves for work and Doug continues his bender alone. Kathryn visits, but Doug refuses to have a serious conversation with her. She pleads with him to call Henry or speak with a therapist, but Doug refuses. After Kathryn leaves, Doug goes to a nearby scenic cliff… and his body is found at the bottom of the chasm several days later (it is not clear if Doug accidentally fell to his death or committed suicide).
The film cuts to Doug’s funeral, where the spirit of Doug wanders through the room listening to the guests’ conversation. Young adult Doug meets the older version of Doug and realizes that older Doug was just a “narrative device” as he will never live to be as old as older Doug. Older Doug tells younger Doug that, for what it’s worth, Caddyshack eventually becomes a beloved classic comedy. The two Dougs then watch as Doug’s parents (over his coffin) finally confess their true feelings of love for Doug, noting they can’t understand why he felt so sad when he was so beloved by his fellow comedians and the world at large. Doug’s spirit says that the funeral is too sad, so he approaches Henry and whispers in his ear that he needs to take a futile and stupid gesture to lighten the mood. Somehow hearing his dead friend’s plea, Henry starts a food fight at the funeral.
A post-credit scene shows the cast singing a song together.
Cameos include director David Wain, David Krumholtz, Mitch Hurwitz, Thomas Lennon, Natasha Lyonne, Liz Femi, Chris Redd, Ed Helms, Jackie Tohn, Jon Daly, Seth Green, Finn Wittrock, John Gemberling, Rick Glassman, Max Greenfield, Joe Lo Truglio, Paul Schee, Martha Smith and Mark Metcalf.