Between Two Ferns: The Movie attempts to be (at first) a documentary of the making of Between Two Ferns. However, as circumstances change, so does the format and instead we enter our movie. As we follow Zach around the U.S., I couldn't help but think Netflix would have just been better off making the interviews into a series as the story between each celebrity encounter just isn't enough to warrant 82 minutes of anyone's time.
Creator of Between Two Ferns, Scott Aukerman, steps behind the camera to direct a movie adaptation of his beloved internet series. Unfortunately for us, while Scott may be excellent at conducting and/or directing awkward interviews such as on his now retired show COMEDY BANG BANG, outside a studio setting his direction is lacking. We never find depth to explore for our characters and instead lazily follow them on their adventure. Now when inside a studio or wherever they may be having an interview be filmed, this is where Aukerman shines, displaying his skills at creating a show that looks exactly like a Public Access TV show but starring brilliant guest stars. It's campy, awkward, and occasionally hilarious, but that's what's so great about Between Two Ferns the show; it's fantastic to get more featured here, but there's just no reason for the sloppy direction to tear the rest of the film apart.
After a flooding at the Public Access studio, Will Ferrell gives Zach an ultimatum to film ten episodes of Between Two Ferns in two weeks time and get everything he's ever dreamed of (AKA a late night talk show). From there we are met with little story breaks between interviews, and the story is certainly not fascinating enough to rival the interviews in any way, but instead more of a way to flesh out the runtime to a feature length film. The interviews, although incredibly short compared to the internet series, are all hysterical, most notably one with John Legend had myself cracking up and holds one of the only genuinely decent gains of momentum the plot has within the film. While the interviews are moving the same charm the webseries did, it's the lack of charm this feature film has for everything going around it that makes this film so cross with itself.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Cameo: the Movie would be another excellent title for Between Two Ferns: The Movie, a reference to a 2015 jab at feature length adaptation of Entourage. Almost every scene in the movie has a cameo, whether it be a smaller actor in the story or a bigger actor being interviewed, you can't expect a minute to go by without a new familiar face flashing on the screen. It's not a bad thing by any means and actually kept myself engaged throughout the experience. Unlike the show which features only Zach and a guest awkwardly conversing on screen, we have a crew that we've never been introduced to and now that we have… let's forget they ever were. They have almost no character development and when they do, it feels remarkably forced into the story for character relevance - more than anything they are used for filler. The second movie this year starring Will Ferrell that completely wasted Lauren Lapkus' comedic talents.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
While expanding on the simplistic score of the Between Two Ferns intro, the score isn't overly memorable. I couldn't recall a single element of the score beyond the slight nods toward the original intro/outro of the show.
The effects are simple, reserved, and in no way technically dazzling. They function well with this particular film, especially bringing the interview setting to a bigger scale. However, in another style of comedy it would be considered "lacking,” "unstylized," or even "lazy.”
Between Two Ferns: The Movie is a reflection of a time in comedy that I admire and has since ceased production, therefore it was wonderful to relive those days and see Zach back to his interviewing ways. However, the movie doesn't feel necessary, as it shoves multiple interviews into a movie format seeming like a mistake instead of continuing to make singular episodes for FOD or Netflix. While hilarious at times, it's the timing between laughs that make me question the effectiveness of the movie's format. The plot surrounding each interview feels rushed, inconsequential, and invalid among the extremes of the interviews we have all come to love. Long live "Between Two Ferns," but maybe dismiss this movie and instead just watch the clips.