Between Two Ferns: The Movie
I love a Zach Galifianakis vehicle as much as the next person, but Between Two Ferns: The Movie falls one fern short of greatness.
For those unfamiliar with the Funny or Die series, Between Two Ferns is one of the best things on the internet, just after kitten pictures and Russian dashcam footage. It has Galifianakis interviewing real celebrities and public figures in the most cringeworthy manner possible. He once asked Ben Stiller “Do you ever wish you had followed your parents into comedy?” and Bruce Willis “Did you know that some actors turn down roles?” with a completely straight face. Best of all, the interview subjects lean just as heavily into the joke as he does, and awkward magic is made.
Between Two Ferns: The Movie takes place in the slightly fictionalized world where this is a real Public Access show, and the movie is about the making of a documentary about the show. Galifianakis and Will Ferrell both play reality-adjacent versions of themselves as the host and his boss. Galifianakis takes his show on the road literally when he sets out on a trip to try to get a talk show on a real network. The running gags with his crew and his odd attachment to his pair of ferns are fun enough to keep the Netflix film from being completely stale but, as expected, all of the best bits are the interview segments.
The guests on his show range from Brie Larson to Keanu Reeves, and many in between. Their stone-faced reactions to his intentionally insulting questions is the true joy of Between Two Ferns: The Movie. Without these quick interactions sprinkled throughout the quick 82-minute running time, there would be little to look forward to.
By the end, director Scott Aukerman knows enough to give us what we want by including an extended blooper reel of the interviewees and/or interviewer breaking character and laughing themselves silly. While credit roll bloopers are generally the lowest possible way to leave your audience with a smile, here it’s precisely what the audience tuned in for in the first place, and I’m willing to give it a pass.
Between Two Ferns: The Movie is by no means a failure, but it’s a meandering way to fill in the gaps between glorified web comedy shorts.