After watching Between Two Ferns: The Movie, it’s nothing more than an overblown SNL sketch that even at a sparse 82 minutes is stretched beyond its limits.
Sometimes you just need to call a movie out for what it is — this new comedy from Netflix should be looked at as an investment into something with long-term potential, instead of an immediate cash-grab, with the team behind it clearly neither caring about the customer or viewer in the process. After watching Between Two Ferns: The Movie (you can check out our other review by clicking these words) the clear objective seems to be a test balloon for Greg Daniels type mockumentaries like The Office or Parks & Recreation. One would have to ask themselves if we were just, “Clooney-ed or Galifianakis-ed;” it feels like the latter because the former would have pulled off a prank that would have a more inspired take with at least a greater sense of imagination.
When it’s all said and done, what you have here is one of those overblown Saturday Night Live sketch comedy movies that petered out at the turn of the century. That’s not to say the film version of Galifianakis’ brilliant series doesn’t have its laughs; it does, but most come in the first third of the film. The opening with Matthew McConaughy and setting up the potential for a comedy series is humorous, while the bit with supermodel Chrissy Teigen is even inspired. The problem is the drop off in terms of comedy is like a bunch of Lemmings that are tumbling off a cliff. The story is stuck in neutral, with several gaps not coming close to landing and you are left with almost an hour of nothing remotely close to interesting happening.
The jokes that made Between Two Ferns famous, as short as they are where the online series episodes last usually from three to six minutes, are cut into even smaller pieces here. In fact, besides the first interview that started the film, they cut up a half-dozen of the rest and sprinkle them into montages; this just doesn’t work as well as in their original limited sketch format and takes away much of the antagonistic humor that made the show so famous. Will Ferrell’s uh, Will Ferrell, is so cartoonishly over-the-top villainous here it doesn’t work cohesively within the mockumentary genre that relies on grounded, observational humor.
What’s ironic is that Scott Aukerman’s film version of Between Two Ferns would work well as a limited series or streaming episodic series, while Zack Galifianakis’, uh, Zack Galifianakis would work well in the Michael Scott protagonist role. Ultimately, even at a sparse 82-minute running time, the film version feels like a 10-minute sketch comedy show that is clearly stretched beyond its limits.
M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.