National Lampoon Goes to the Movies (1983) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

(aka National Lampoon's Movie Madness)

I know I'm not the only one who shed a tear watching poor, old, overweight Willie Mays stumble after fly balls when he tried to extend his career with the Mets. Sad, indeed. Perhaps the only thing sadder than seeing the fall of a great and admired institution is watching people try to be funny without knowing how.

This movie managed to to combine BOTH of those conditions.

It is a totally unfunny movie performed with desperation by people begging the audience to laugh. That would be sad enough, but the fact that it was produced by the National Lampoon people made it absolutely heartbreaking.

When I was just out of college, the National Lampoon zeroed in exactly on my sense of humor. I had 24 of the first 25 issues. Still have 'em, bound in two yellow National Lampoon binders. I also have a bunch of their specials, like the legendary "1964 High School Yearbook Parody", and "The National Lampoon Encyclopedia of Humor", which is one of the funniest and most brilliant books ever published - erudite, profane, witty, and daring. The Lampoon's Animal House movie is a treasured generational memory for people my age, and a beautiful evocation of college life in the period before the cultural revolution of 1967. I was in college for one year before the world changed. I actually pledged the Animal House, and attended some parties almost exactly like the ones in the movie. Flounder's freshman year was a lot like mine, and I knew several upperclassmen who could be compared almost one-to-one to characters in the film.

The Animal House world was over quickly for me. For better or worse, the world changed in the summer of 1967, and the world of pig parties and gross-out competitions disappeared from college life, replaced by some serious marijuana consumption and an ever-so-serious political consciousness that dominated my last three undergrad years. During my college years, the Animal House years ended and college students made the transition from "carefree" to "scared and angry." The combination of a war and a system of forced conscription will do that!

At any rate, the guys at the National Lampoon, especially Doug Kenney, Henry Beard, and Michael O'Donoghue, were the comedy writers I admired most in the early 70s. But the Lampoon could not sustain the quality of its glory years. Henry Beard and Doug Kenney had a 5-year buyout clause in their contract with 21st Century Communications. They exercised the option in 1974, and that tolled the death knell for the Lampoon. Beard left as soon as the contract was settled. Kenney stayed on until 1977, when he co-wrote the screenplay for Animal House, but would be dead within three years, although still in his early 30s. O'Donoghue went off to write for Saturday Night Live, and also died quite young.

After those three guys were gone, the National Lampoon kept putting its name on products, but they rarely if ever approached the quality of the material produced in the 1970-77 era. Some of their later efforts were respectable, like Van Wilder and the Chevy Chase Vacation movies, but others failed miserably, as sad to watch as Willie Mays in the Mets' outfield. This movie is one such example. As publisher Matty Simmons says in the trailer, this was to have been the Lampoon's next movie after Animal House. To their credit, the producers seemed to figure out that it was a turkey, dumped it out of the original release schedule, shelved it, and later released it on video without fanfare. It has rarely been seen before the DVD release. Shelving this film pushed the Chevy Chase Wally World movie into the position of being the Lampoon's follow-up to Animal House. That switch was a good move by the Lampoon team. National Lampoon's Vacation turned out to be a funny film which helped to add longevity and value to the Lampoon brand.

As for National Lampoon Goes to the Movies, it is supposed to be three genre spoofs:

  • In episode one, a hard-charging young lawyer dumps his life and misplaces some of his children in his efforts to attain "personal growth."

  • In part two, a women who is raped by butter at a convention of dairy producers resolves to destroy the butter industry by using her wiles and sexual cunning to become the queen of the margarine world, then marrying the richest man in the world, then marrying the President of the USA. If I remember right, she pulled all that off in about three days, by bullying her way around like J.R. Ewing on steroids. It was, more or less, a parody of those ruthless-sex-and-power plots beloved by such authors as Harold Robbins and Arthur Hailey.

  • The last episode is a parody of those "mismatched buddy" cop flicks, in which an idealistic young do-gooder is paired with a jaded and alcoholic veteran. Despite Robby Benson, Christopher Lloyd, and Richard Widmark, this segment is no better than the others, and doesn't even have the gratuitous nudity which spiced up the other two vignettes.

Do you recall how you felt the last time you watched an SNL skit that just wasn't working, but it dragged on and on and on? Well, imagine three of those dragging on for thirty minutes each, and you'll be able to imagine what this film is like. I don't think I laughed or even smiled once in the entire flick.



  • No features except the original theatrical trailer
  • The DVD contains both widescreen anamorphic (16x9) and full screen versions of the film



  • Teresa Ganzel: very large natural breasts!

  • Ann Dusenberry - breasts multiple times, buns once clearly, and possibly a very brief pubic flash.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a D - a film that doesn't even play well to its target audience. I love genre spoofs. I loved the National Lampoon magazine, and Animal House. I couldn't even get a smile out of this. Watching it was arduous and made me sad.

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