Film Review: Between Two Ferns The Movie

between two ferns index
Zach Galifianakis first produced an episode of this somewhat unusual chat show way back in 2008, he wasn’t the first talk show host to be rude to a celebrity or ask them questions which made them clearly uncomfortable but he did do it extremely well. Sure, in many a case the celebrities involved were clearly in on the joke, but the short online clips were always a delight to watch despite this.

Though still a lot of fun, the film isn’t particularly original story wise as after the public broadcasting studio the show is made in is flooded and all but destroyed Zach’s approached by Will Ferrell, who owns the Funny Or Die website the show is broadcast on, and a bet is made where if Galifianakis makes ten new episodes then he’ll get his own nationally broadcast chat show. So all he has to do is go on the road and travel to ten famous types, interview them, and get to Los Angeles within ten days and it’s a done deal.

Joining him on this task are his faithful assistant Carol (the always reliable Lauren Lapkus), camera-man Cam (Ryan Gaul, best known as Andrew in the sublime Bajillion Dollar Properties) and sound woman Boom Boom (Jiavani Linayao), all of whom go from mildly disliking Zach to mildly liking him while on the road, but only Lapkus is given any really funny moments as she copes with Zach’s ever frustrating demands on their time and the other two do feel a bit wasted.

The original series worked so well as it could be genuinely subversive as it asked questions of it’s guests that they clearly weren’t prepared for, and could even find upsetting, but this is on much safer ground as it’s clear that everyone involved knows what the set up is, and so even if they’re asked questions which appear rude they only act annoyed and struggle not to corpse as the outtakes over the end credits show. Which is a shame in a way as it means it’s not as sharp as it could have been, but at the same time it’s still really fun to watch Zach mock well known types and he does so incredibly well, with the interview segments definitely being the highlight of the movie.

That’s not to say that the scenes inbetween the interviews aren’t any good, and there are a few strong running jokes – the best being all of the celebrities who hit on Boom Boom despite her disdain for such an event – but overall it’s a very flimsy, substance-less affair. The plot hits the beats you’d expect it too without taking the time out to satirise these tired conventions, and it could have been a lot funnier if they didn’t make it such a feel good affair. It’s surprising in a way as writer director Scott Aukerman (of Comedy Bang Bang! fame) is usually a far more unconventional comedy creator, yet I don’t want to criticise the film too much as it is a comedy which largely works, and does contain some very very funny moments, with Paul Rudd particularly on fire, though Galifinakis gets the best line of the movie as he tells Bumblebee star Hailee Steinfeld “I walked out of that movie. I’m just kidding I didn’t walk out of the movie. I skipped out as I was so happy to be leaving”.

Perhaps the best way to approach the film is with fairly low expectations then, as long as you go in hoping for something mildly fun which will make you laugh on a regular basis it won’t disappoint, especially if you enjoy watching celebrities being insulted and them either hit back or mock themselves. But it is without question the comedy equivalent of fast food, something you’ll like well enough at the time but will forget about completely thirty minutes after you’ve finished it.

Alex Finch.
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