When the idea of a movie adaptation of Between Two Ferns was announced, many people were curious as to what it could possibly be. After all, an Internet video done on no-budget that consists of casually insulting celebrities to their face is one thing. To take that one thing and stretch it into a 90 minute movie is completely separate. The answer to this question? Take it on the road.
The story is pretty simple. After a massive flood in the public access studio where the show is broadcast (momentarily) kills Matthew McConaughey, Will Ferrell gives Zach Galifianakis the chance to redeem himself. The task? Deliver 10 more episodes of the show accomplished by driving across the country and hand-delivering them in Los Angeles in 2 weeks. The reward? His own network talk show.
The movie itself plays like a motion picture version of a variety special in the 1970’s, with the biggest names in show business popping in for a quick bit before leaving just as quickly. With names like David Letterman, Brie Larson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, John Legend, Jon Hamm, Peter Dinklage, Tiffany Haddish, Chance the Rapper, and of course Will Ferrell sprinkled throughout, you almost get whiplash by the speed at which it goes from one recognizable face to the next.
The thing that also adds to the film, of course, is that it’s done so tongue-in-cheek, where the film knows how ridiculous this idea is. So much of the internet show is dependent on the art of absurdity, and thankfully, that absurdism is along for the ride. It also helps that the movie features a multitude of mini-Ferns episodes inside of the plot.
Additionally, there is a great amount of character growth that allows Galifianakis to grow while on this epic journey. It’s reminiscent of the seldom-talked about Stuart Smalley movie, Stuart Saves his Family, one of the few successful attempts done by Saturday Night Live to take a one-note idea and expand it on the big screen. Instead of stretching out the talk show character until there’s nothing left, it is simply adding more layers by putting them in the real world and giving us an actual person that we can sympathize with. It gives us a rare glimpse inside of this character that we’ve watched on the internet for the past 11 years.
While enjoyable, one is curious of what the future holds, if anything, for the fictional Zack Galifianakis. Hopefully this wasn’t a farewell to the Ferns.
Between Two Ferns: The Movie is currently streaming on Netflix.