Monday, September 23, 2019

Review: "Between Two Ferns: The Movie" is TV-to-cinema as it should be

Between Two Ferns: The Movie Review
There seems to be one commonality when Hollywood decides to bring a television show to the big screen, those movies simply become longer versions of a regular episode of said show. You see it over and over again. My favorite movie based on a TV show is "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut," one of the reasons, well, just read the title again. The movie embraces what its doing and that's part of the joke. I'm sure part of the appeal for people seeing a movie based on their favorite TV show is seeing your favorite characters doing what they usually do. But that doesn't automatically mean it makes for a good movie. Is this all we should expect from movies based on TV shows? Just longer episodes of the show with a bigger budget?

I don't know how many people would call "Between Two Ferns" a TV show. Its more of web series. But since TV has really evolved in the last decade, I have a hard time not calling it a TV show. If you've never seen a single episode of "Between Two Ferns," its a very simple set up. Zach Galifianakis plays a more mundane, dry version of himself and conducts short interviews with big celebrities. The interviews are usually just Galifianakis trying to drive his guests crazy in five minutes or less, but the show has been surprisingly funny for as long as I've been a fan. Its not material that I'd ever guessed would be movie material. So I was surprised that Netflix was even going to go there.

There were going to have to be some major changes if this idea was even going to work as an hour and a half movie. Once again, to my surprise, Zach Galifianakis and director Scott Aukerman deliver something that works. There are some big laughs throughout the movie, and this should be a delight for anybody who has ever been a fan of the web series. That typical dry humor is on full force in this movie, and some of the films victims include Brie Larson, Chance The Rapper, Matthew McConaughey, Bruce Willis, Paul Rudd, and David Letterman. 

But if you think this is just an hour and a half long episode of the show, you mistaken. The movie takes kind of a "Office" parody, as we learn about the cast and crew who put the show together. Will Ferrell plays a eviler version of himself who created the show. There is a wrap around story of a documentary crew filming Zach's day-to-day life producing the show itself and it takes "The Office" parody to big heights. Galifianakis' usual droll persona pays off big when he's interacting with the documentary crew. Lauren Lapkus is particularly funny as Galifianakis' secretary.

Where the movie falls a bit is in the second half. Sure, its a little funny when this mockumentary suddenly begins to feel like a movie, but the execution comes up a little short. The count down in the second half of the movie is almost unneeded, as its pretty funny as a false documentary in the first half. See Galifiankis' show is in danger of getting canceled in the last half the movie, and he pretty much goes and finds other people to interview in order to save his show. Again, its a sub-plot that really isn't needed and an equally convenient way to keep Galifianakis occupied to fill an entire movie. Perhaps this could have worked a little better as a short film. 

No matter what, "Between Two Ferns: The Movie" is TV-to-cinema done right. A movie that pays homage to the fans who watch it without just being a longer episode of the show. The movie takes that ambition a little too far at times, but sometimes in comedy its okay to go too far.

FINAL GRADE: B

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