The new video for Mumford & Sons’ “Hopeless Wanderer” starts out pretty much the way you’d expect: a rickety piano set in a grassy field, clips of the (supposed) band mates hauling out their various folk instruments for a meaningful jam session in the great outdoors where no one would ever bring a piano (but it’s alright, ‘cause it’s a music video, and that’s how we roll with music videos).
But catch a glimpse of a face silhouetted against the morning sun, and—wait. That’s not Marcus Mumford. And those aren’t the Sons, either.
Nope. It’s four of today’s most recognizable comics: Ed Helms, Jason Bateman, Will Forte, Jason Sudekis, and Will Forte (sporting a fake hipster beard) aping Mumford & Sons in possibly the most surprising twist of celebrity impersonation since Chevy Chase mouthed the words to Paul Simon’s “Call Me Al.”
As you might imagine, as the video progresses, the four fake folksters get more and more over-the-top in their parody. Among the many gags are a beard-on-beard make-out session between Sudekis and Forte; the four men weeping like the munchkin gatekeeper in The Wizard of Oz; Jason Bateman shredding the banjo like a heavy metal player (evoking smoke from the strings); and the Mumford impostors destroying their instruments at the end of the song like a punk band.
But believe it or not, the most remarkable aspect of the video for me is not the obvious parody parts, but when the four comedians are straight faced, totally in character. Let’s face it—when you have four other guys play your roles in your super-serious folk-emo song, it’s actually quite funny because it points out the subtle absurdity in it all. If the real Mumford & Sons were playing their instruments in a rowboat on the creek, we wouldn’t see the humor in it.
So for me, this video for “Hopeless Wanderer” is a brilliant stroke because it tells us that for all their grave self-reflection, Mumford & Sons don’t take themselves too seriously, and neither does the video itself. Bottom line: it’s just plain fun. Have a look.