Movie Talk: Between Two Ferns: The Movie

Arts & Culture MovieTalk

By Ryan Farrell, Staff Writer

This weekend marked the release of the Netflix original film Between Two Ferns: The Movie. Zach Galifianakis certainly carries the film and makes it stand out from other comedy’s. While this purposefully uncomfortable comedy can be consistent with its web-series, its basic story prevents it from being great.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie is based on the web series of the same name. This 10-year-old mini series is presented by FunnyOrDie.com and features Zach Galifianakis insulting celebrities in a dry talkshow context. Guests range from actors like Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt to presidential candidates such as Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The film elaborates on Between Two Ferns’ concept. It relays the classical format with new celebrity guests, but it also explores new feats behind the camera. Galifianakis’ public access show is canceled when a catastrophic leak destroys his studio. Desperate, he begs his producer, Will Ferrell, for a late night talk show. Ferrell proposes that if Galifianakis can produce ten more episodes his dream will become a reality. Galifinanakis and his production crew start their journey on the road, desperate for any celebrity that may come their way.

This film is at its best when it’s reproducing the original format of the show. What makes it interesting is that the context of the story will influence the interview, adding variation to the format. An example of this happens during Galifianakis’ interview with David Letterman. Since it’s the first show of the contract, Galifianakis is nervous. He chokes on his words, snaps at his assistants, and is ultimately countered by David Letterman. This adds variation to the routine.

Other stars featured in the film include Matthew McConaughey, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Tessa Thompson.

Behind the camera the comedy is less consistent. It starts by acting as a documentary for the series, prior to the leak. It evolves into a workspace comedy, reflecting the style used in The Office. This is where the side characters play a major role. While they have unique personality traits, they really aren’t that interesting. They either comment on Galifianakis’ craziness or spew out a cliche line that is meant to move the plot along.

The later half of the film is consistent with this, complementary with a stereotypical mope session and an inevitable reunion.

The original show is iconic for its unpredictability, which is sadly inconsistent throughout the film. These forced plot points make the film feel structured, which doesn’t reflect the comedic style.

Ultimately, Between Two Ferns: The Movie is mainly appealing to those that are familiar with the web-series or other works of Galifianakis. While there’s a lot to appreciate, the cliche plot points drag the film down towards the end. Between Two Ferns: The Movie is currently streaming on Netflix.

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