Mumford & Sons is very successful at being a band. Going multi-platinum is a significant achievement for any band at any time, but in 2013 it borders on the miraculous. Factor in that this latest success was only the band’s second album, and thus a firm rebuke to the threat of a sophomore slump, and it’s all the more impressive. The only thing working against the band is that they are very, very easy to make fun of. With their latest video, however, the band attempts to prove that they are aware of this fact, and get in on the joke, too.
The video for Hopeless Wanderer, directed by Sam Jones, begins as you might imagine most Mumford & Sons videos do–with four beardy, vested gents lugging old-timey instruments through a field, as though tilling the soil. After some solar lens flares obscure the view of these band members’ faces consistently, though, it becomes clear that something different is going on. Soon, it’s revealed that the band has been replaced by the comedic quartet of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, and Will Forte.
Performing as Mumford & Sons, these four comics amp up the earnestness, cumbersome instruments, and anachronistic fashion sense of the band, without going over the top (until the end). The biggest sight gag finds them performing in a claustrophobic space that I won’t spoiler further by revealing. There’s a bonus inside joke, in that Ed Helms, an accomplished banjo player, is not playing the banjo here. In any case, “Hopeless Wanderer” is an admirable effort from the band to laugh off the Mumford-haters’ vitriol and show the humor behind all that aching sincerity.