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Film Review: Between Two Ferns - The Movie

8 October 19 words: Miriam Blakemore-Hoy

Does Zach Galifianakis' popular web-series transfer to the big screen?

Director: Scott Aukerman

Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Matthew McConaughey, Rekha Shankar

Running time: 82 mins

To be honest, this film probably shouldn’t exist. But then again, you could say that about a lot of things. And just because it’s unlikely, doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. For fans of the hilariously awkward TV series this will come as a real treat. If you haven’t seen the original, the film will possibly confuse the hell out of you, but hey, why not give it a go anyway!

It’s a fairly simple storyline. Zac Galifianakis and friends take us on an extended tour of his strange little alter-ego world.  When Galifianakis nearly drowns Matthew McConaughey in the TV studio, manager Will Ferrell gets mad and gives him an ultimatum - ten episodes in a week to be delivered to Ferrell’s offices in L.A. or else he can kiss his TV career goodbye. The question is, can Galifianakis do it? And just who is going to feature in his episodes…?  Cue, an eighty-two minute road trip with an eclectic bunch of characters, a humongous load of celebrities, some excruciating jokes at the expense of said celebrities, and of course those two ferns.

To be honest, this film probably shouldn’t exist

For it to be possible to make a feature length film out of only minutes-long episodes, something pretty special has been achieved. And for the most part the film stays true to its origins and is interspersed with some brilliant interviews - special mention goes to Benedict Cumberbatch. But it did feel like there could have been a bit more to the non-interview parts of the story. Very reminiscent of his Hangover days, Galifianakis is true to form, playing another version of himself where insanity and genius gently meet and where he carries through enough self-awareness to take the brunt of many a joke himself.   

His performance is complimented by his partners in crime, producer Carol (Lauren Lapkus), camera-man Cam (Ryan Gaul) and sound engineer Boom Boom (Jiavani Linayao) as they go tracking down celebrities the length and breadth of North America.  Just looking at the end credits helps you to see how many cameos this film has. It’s not so much a case of who’s in it, but who’s not in it. And that’s really where the genius lies. Because who wouldn’t want to watch a man with seemingly no shame asking the most obnoxious questions to the likes of David Letterman, Peter Dinklage, Brie Larson, Jon Hamm, Keanu Reeves… you get the idea.

But, as much as I hate to admit it, there is still a sense of something lacking, where the action in between interviews sometimes couldn’t quite produce enough comedy to fully live up to expectations. There are some moments of absolute gold that came careering out of nowhere, in times when you least expected it, but the problem is, I wanted more! I expect that’s just what you get when you go into something with very high expectations.

Did you know? This is the second time Jon Hamm is interviewed on Between Two Ferns. The first time (in 2010) the chyron says "Jon Ham, Actor, The Mad Men"

Between Two Ferns: The Movie is available on Netflix now