A few years ago, I watched several episodes of Zach Galifianakis’ web series “Between Two Ferns”, and I still remember well how much I was tickled by those hilariously awkward moments generated between Galifianakis and his celebrity guests. He is effortlessly funny as casually throwing truly inappropriate but undeniably uproarious questions to his guests, and his guests willingly go along with that during their mock interview between, yes, two ferns.
And that was why I was instantly interested when I belatedly heard about “Between the Ferns: The Movie”, which was released on Netflix last Friday. While it is more or less than a series of episodes hung together on a rather thin plotline, the movie provides plenty of good laughs from the beginning to the end, and it is certainly something you should not miss if you enjoyed Galifianakis’s web series as much as I did.
At the beginning, the movie shows us how things have not been that good for Galifianakis and “Between Two Ferns” for several years. Although he has managed to interview a number of various celebrity guests ranging from Keanu Reeves to Brie Larson since he drew the attention of his big boss Will Ferrell, he and his goofy band of production crew members are still stuck in a small local broadcasting network of North Carolina, and then they happen to be struck by an unexpected catastrophe while he is interviewing Matthew McConaughey, who definitely has a juicy fun with his public persona as keeping his face straight as much as possible in front of a number of outrageously insulting questions and surreal happenings.
After that disastrous incident, it looks like everything is now over for Galifianakis and his production crew members, but then Ferrell, who is also having a blast with the overblown version of his comic image, directly approaches to him for giving an opportunity he cannot resist. He orders Galifianakis to produce no less than 10 episodes and then hand them all to him in LA within no less than two weeks, and, though he does not have much money and resource for that, Galifianakis agrees to do that mainly because he is promised that he will get his own prime time talk show to be broadcast over the whole country.
As Galifianakis and his production crew go from one spot to another during their long and bumpy journey from North Carolina to LA, the screenplay by director Scott Auckerman, who wrote the story with Galifianakis, doles out small and big moments to be savored for good comic timing and delivery. While I giggled a bit during the segment featuring a certain famous TV talk show host who manages to maintain his non-nonsense attitude in front of Galifianakis, John Hamm, who is mainly known for acclaimed TV drama series “Mad Men” but has also shown considerable comic talent via his guest appearances in TV sitcom series “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, is delightful in his brief comic appearance, and so are several other notable celebrity figures such as Tiffany Haddish and Paul Rudd, who is having a ball with his oddly unflappable attitude.
The most hilarious moment in the film comes from the unexpected appearance of a certain prominent female model, who comes to have a very intimate moment with Galifianakis after talking a bit with him at a bar. I will not go into details here in this review, but I want to tell you that I was really caught off guard by one funny reference to the 1970 short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson and Richard Kelly’s 2009 film “The Box” – and that I got more good laughs during the subsequent scene where Galifianakis happens to interview the last person he wants to face at that point.
During the second half, the movie wears out its welcome a bit due to its repetitive narrative, but it keeps bouncing cheerfully along with Galifianakis and his few main cast members, and they gradually become sort of endearing to us despite their incorrigibly goofy aspects. As shown from his breakthrough supporting turn in “The Hangover” (2009), Galifianakis can be simultaneously clueless and likable, and we somehow come to root for him even while getting plenty of wry laughs from his numerous moments of idiocy and inappropriateness in the film. As a few crucial fictional characters surrounding Galifianakis in the film, Lauren Lapkus, Ryan Gual, and Jiavani Linanyao have each own small moment to shine, and Lapkus is particularly good when her character reveals more of her affection and dedication toward Galifianakis during their little private time on a lake.
And there are also those two ferns, which surely generate a substantial amount of chuckles as being more than background elements. Early in the film, we get a preposterous scene showing how much Galifianakis is obsessed with getting two ferns which look exactly like each other, and there later comes another nice moment for laugh as he insists on taking his precious two ferns along with him during the journey.
Although it lags a bit as arriving at its arrival point, “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” soon finds its groove back as presenting a series of blooper moments between Galifianakis and his interviewees during its end credits, and these moments surely show us how much fun Galifianakis and his interviewees had together in front of the camera. In short, this is one of funnier comedy films of this year, and I assure you with confidence that you will find yourself going through a string of guffaws like I did during my viewing.