A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Between Two Ferns: The Movie is a 2019 comedy based on a popular web series in which Zach Galifianakis conducts awkward interviews with celebrities. While hilarious overall, there are quite a few off-color jokes about everything from AIDS and suicide to drug abuse. Expect lots of swearing, including "f--k" and its variations. The "N" word is used in the background in a hip-hop song. There's some comedic violence, including a car crash, and a scene in which John Legend sprays mace in Galifianakis' face and groin. Galifianakis goes back to Chrissy Teigen's hotel room, where they have sex (no graphic nudity). Some jokes are centered around penises, and there's a joke centered on a porn movie Galifianakis rented repeatedly in a hotel room. There are also jokes about cocaine and crystal meth. Be ready for nearly two dozen all-star cameos, too. Like the series, the movie is best for those who enjoy mature humor that's both dry and absurd.
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What's the story?
In Flinch, North Carolina, Zach Galifianakis has been hosting a public access interview program called "BETWEEN TWO FERNS," in which he engages in awkward interviews with celebrities. This eventually attracts the attention of Will Ferrell, the sleazy CEO of the popular comedy website Funny or Die, who thinks Galifianakis is hilariously stupid. But when Galifianakis creates a flood that destroys the TV studio in Flinch, Ferrell gives Galifianakis an offer: Film 20 celebrity interviews across the country and deliver it to his desk in Los Angeles in two weeks, and in exchange, he will give Galifianakis the chance to fulfill his dream of being a late-night talk show host. With a skeleton film crew, including his loyal assistant Carol (Lauren Lapkus), Galifianakis hits the road, conducting interviews with, among many others, David Letterman, Tessa Thompson, Brie Larson, and Paul Rudd. Along the way, he also seduces Chrissy Teigen in a bar, which leads to an altercation with John Legend. But with time and money running low, he must find a way to finish the interviews and get to the Funny or Die offices in time.
Is it any good?
This movie is awkward, caustic, silly, sweet, and endlessly hilarious. It's a story centered on celebrity culture and worship that shows, particularly in the character-breaking closing credits, that many celebrities seem to find the spectacle as ridiculous as many of us, and can laugh at it and themselves. And sprinkled throughout this story and the interviews are so many laugh-out-loud asides, like Galifianakis' devoted assistant Carol giving him the bad news that Jake Gyllenhaal can't do the scheduled interview because he spelled his name wrong when buying the plane ticket. While the absurdity and uncomfortable silences of the web series are very much in effect, Between Two Ferns: The Movie, through the story and the vast assemblage of comedic talent appearing throughout, take it to an even more enjoyable level for older teens and adults.
Directed by Scott Aukerman, best known for Comedy Bang Bang!, Between Two Ferns: The Movie includes so many styles of comedy that it's something any aspiring comedy writer or performer should study. It's especially impressive considering how many movie offshoots of characters and premises from other media fail as movies (SNL, ahem). While it's probably not for everyone -- but then again, what is, these days, especially in comedy? -- Between Two Ferns: The Movie covers such a wide spectrum of humor that there should be at least one joke that resonates for everyone, and most likely, many more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about comedy. What are some of the different types of humor used in Between Two Ferns: The Movie? How is humor subjective?
How does this movie satirize television interviews, particularly celebrity interviews?
How does the movie use the interview format to satirize celebrity culture in general?
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