Between Two Ferns: The Movie Doesn’t Hit The Mark

Zach Galifianakis in Between Two Ferns. Photo by Adam Rose/Netflix.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie stretches out the Funny or Die series into a feature-length film while losing most of the humor in the process.

Listen, it gives me no happiness to pan Between Two Ferns: The Movie.  Trust me–panning this film is like a huge punch in the gut.  I have nothing but the greatest respect for all those involved in the production.  Between Two Ferns worked so well online because the interviews were short.  As a feature-length film, it doesn’t hit on the level.  It comes off as a Saturday Night Live sketch that lost most of the humor in transition.

Zach Galifianakis takes his Between Two Ferns show on the road.  Joining him for the tour are camera crew Carol Hunch (Lauren Lapkus), Cameron “Cam” Campbell (Ryan Gaul), and “Boom Boom” De Laurentis (Jiavani Linayao).

The film’s best moments in terms of hysterics come right at the start.  This is when Zach Galifianakis interviews Matthew McConaughey.  Laughs never stop when water gets sprayed all over the place.  After this, the film is mostly all downhill while stretching out the humor.  The best highlights come during the interviews with the likes of Jon Hamm and others.  Listen, Jon Hamm ought to be in more comedies!

Paul Rudd is always a fun interview.  When Zach first encounters him, Rudd is raising money in Chicago for his Bones for Kids foundation.  Hey, it’s for a good cause if there are children born without any bones. Anyway, Rudd gets asked about being a practicing Jew.  To which Rudd retorts that he’s not a practicing Jew because he perfected it.

While interviewing Peter Dinklage, Zach asks Peter if he was in X-Men.  This segues into the comment about Zach’s favorite X-Man being Caitlyn Jenner.  While Zach might stress that it’s not offensive, the joke comes off as such a hack one that the humor misses on all levels.  If people are going to make jokes at the expense of the transgender community, can you please start coming up with better material?!?  You know what?  Maybe leave the trans jokes to trans comedians.

When Zach finally gets a network talk show, he starts by selling out his persona.  Gone are the butchered names and questions that back you laugh up a storm.  This Zach 2.0 starts behaving like other late night hosts on screen.  Obviously, he adopts some moves of his own but this is beside the point.  When his camera crew calls him out on it, he realizes that the network show isn’t for him.

Outside of select interviews during the film, the best moments come during the credits when interview subjects get caught laughing while answering.  Stay tuned after the end credits because there’s a stinger scene.  Still though, it’s sad when the best moments of the film (aside from the opening) are buried in the credits.

Take The Second City, for example.  When it comes to sketch comedy, they know when a sketch should end.  When you go on past the expiration, don’t be surprised if you start hearing moaning and grumbling from the audience.  Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens when one watches the film.  Comedy is subjective, of course.  Obviousy, Second City works a bit differently than Between Two Ferns.  Still, the end process remains the same: either a sketch works or they don’t.  In this case, the film expands upon content that works way better in short form.  The end result shows because the laughs sadly come few and far between in Between Two Ferns: The Movie.  When the concept works, it’s hysterical.  When it doesn’t, we’re moaning and groaning.  It’s best left unbroken.

CAST:  Zach Galifianakis, Lauren Lapkus, Ryan Gaul, Jiavani Linayao, Will Ferrell

Netflix launched Between Two Ferns: The Movie on September 20, 2019. Grade: 2.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.