That Blooper Reel
Between Two Ferns: The Movie is not a very good film. It’s not particularly well written and at times it feels tonally confused as it jumps between The Office-esque skits and interviews with a thinly veiled plot to hold it all together. Yet despite all this, I found myself laughing through Between Two Ferns more than any other film this year, raising a very interesting dilemma around just how to review this.
The film itself is really a tale of two halves. On the one hand, the majority of the laughs and comedy come from the interviews with Zach himself. For anyone who’s ever seen the internet show, you’ll know that Zach is ruthless and delivers a barrage of insults and cleverly written jokes that are as dry and sarcastic as they are hilarious. On the other side of the coin is the plot itself which begins with Zach almost killing Matthew McConaughey. Overseeing the show, Will Ferrell arrives and tells Zach he needs to travel across the country and collect 10 episodes of Between Two Ferns in 2 weeks. If he achieves that, he’ll give Zach a talk show and let him live his dream.
It’s silly, formulaic stuff and the film’s plot plays out exactly as you’d expect. All the usual plot tropes show up here too, including the betrayal, the big dramatic return at the end and the montage segment in the middle as Zach begins firing off a barrage of interviews. These are easily the highlight of the film and alongside the highlight reel at the end during the credits, the interviews are likely going to get the most amount of laughs from people. Everything in between does well to keep things ticking by but largely fails to garner any sort of laughs beyond a few amusing observations and slapstick moments involving the ferns.
If there’s one thing the film does have in abundance though, it’s star power. From Brie Larson and John Legend through to David Letterman and Peter Dinklage, Between Two Ferns: The Movie crams its relatively mild run time of 1 hour 22 minutes with as many celebrities as possible. Unfortunately in doing so, some of the jokes feel a little rushed and the comedy during the interviews doesn’t always have enough time to deliver as many laughs as it perhaps should. The interviews with Tiffany Haddish, Hailee Steinfeld and Adam Scott come to mind, with agonizingly short interviews that don’t quite hit the right comedic mark as some of the others do.
Overall then, Between Two Ferns: The Movie feels like a film that had a lot of interview footage and needed a plot to tie it all together in a cohesive manner. If I’m honest, I’d have much preferred a Netflix Original series with 10 minute interviews as I feel this may have worked so much better than the feature film format we receive here. There are some nice ideas here they largely feel formulaic and designed to move from interview A to interview B without much thought to the comedy between. Still, despite that the film does have some good laughs and the end blooper reel is easily the highlight of the entire film.
In a way, Between Two Ferns: The Movie is likely to be the worst and best comedy of the year, making for quite the polarizing view. Personally I’m in the former and love the comedy but it’s hard to ignore the glaring plot issues and mundane scripting around these segments. Whether the masses will take to the comedy and overlook the plot issues in quite the same way though, remains to be seen.