Between Two Ferns: The Movie (3 stars)

Between Two Ferns: The Movie

Patchy affair as Zach Galifianakis' indie chat show gets the film treatment

Taking Zach Galifianakis' spoof online talk show out of its short-form comfort zone and into a full-length TV movie always seemed like an idea that couldn't possibly work. And so, across its 83 minutes, Between Two Ferns' true treats are the passive-aggressive celebrity interviews with the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Dinklage, Tessa Thompson, Keanu Reeves, Brie Larson and Jon Hamm. Mispronouncing their names, undermining their accomplishments and questioning their talent, Galifianakis is the chat-show host from hell, a sullen presence reading his highly invasive and often inappropriate queries straight from a bit of paper, allowing for zero chemistry to spark between himself and his guests.

Sadly, someone decided that some sort of plot was required to hold this altogether. So, when a catastrophic interview with Matthew McConaughey almost results in the actor drowning after Galifianakis' efforts to fix a leaky roof, his boss Will Ferrell instructs him to make another ten episodes in two weeks. Succeeding in this task will be followed by a contract offer to make the network show he has always dreamed of helming, while failure means an ultimate expulsion from the Funny Or Die web strand which produces Between Two Ferns.

That an indie star such as Galifianakis would ever want to become the next Jay Leno or David Letterman (another poor schmuck who sits down to take his fern-flavoured medicine) is the gag that's expected to underpin the road movie sections as his ragtag of helpers come along for the ride fed by an empty promise of some fame and fortune. These scenes merely get in the way of more butt-clenchingly awkward interviews that are clearly being relished by the subjects. That the blooper reel which closes proceedings is the second best part of Between Two Ferns is another indictment on those who worked hard to make this film a 'story'.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie is available now on Netflix.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie

  • 3 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 1h 22min
  • Directed by: Scott Aukerman
  • Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Lauren Lapkus, Ryan Gaul, Jiavani Linayao

Zach Galifianakis takes his chat show on the road.