Between Two Ferns is a concept ripe for short web videos where they can go viral in an instant. Yet here we are with Between Two Ferns: The Movie being shoved down our throats and unbelievably, it sticks the landing — hard. The film features that typical web video format for a solid chunk of the way, giving fans enough of the content that made them fall in love with the property in the first place. But for the masses — it is being introduced to a much wider audience thanks to Netflix, after all — there's an actual mockumentary storyline interlaced throughout, allowing the film to step back and cool off every so often so that Zach Galifianakis' awkwardness isn't too grating.
Admittedly, the pacing of everything is sluggish throughout — though that's certainly by design. Galifianakis' faux talk show host receives nearly a full 90 minutes to explore and, despite his awkwardness and self-deprecating shtick nearly running its course, there's a certain amount of charm interjected with Galifianakis here that nearly makes him impossible to dislike.
There's little argument Between Two Ferns is peak Galifianakis and The Movie takes it up a whole other level, packing itself full to the brim of awkward silences, closeups, and more than enough cringeworthy moments. In fact, there are even a few lines included throughout the duration of the film that proves comedians can push the boundaries of comedy without walking away looking like a complete asshole in the end.
Galifianakis is definitely held up by a tremendous supporting cast, like with Jurassic World alum Lauren Lapkus, who plays a quirky personal assistant that finds herself involved in some of the movie's funniest moments, including a tear-inducing belly laugh moment involving a paddleboat and a trumpet. Superstore's Ryan Gaul and Upright Citizens Brigade member Jiavani Linayao each shine in their respective moments.
On top of that, Funny or Die manages to pull out all the stops in getting a star-studded celebrity roster. Throughout the hour-and-a-half run time, fans are treated to appearances by resurging social media heartthrob Keanu Reeves and Game of Thrones alum Peter Dinklage to Marvel stalwarts like Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, and Paul Rudd, with each guest being harsher and more delightfully awkward than the last
Even amidst one cringeworthy moment after another, there's still a beautiful message beneath it all about chasing your dreams while climbing the hill of adversity. There's something to be said about looking at every situation through rose-colored glasses and this movie tackles that head-on. The entire piece is painfully self-aware, something which allows the movie to work as well as it does. Though it likely wouldn't play well in theaters, we need not worry about that as Netflix is the perfect home for something like this. Clocking in at an hour and 22 minutes, Between Two Ferns: The Movies is a desirable watch for anyone looking for a quick set of chuckles. The style of editing and comedy might fall flat to some but if you're a fan of the web series or Galifianakis as an actor, it'll be hard to find a better performance of his than this.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Between Two Ferns: The Movie is now streaming on Netflix.