Kuwait- ‘Between’ modern-day SNL film

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(MENAFN – Arab Times) Galifianakis keeps it weird


Chevy Chase was one of the original cast members of SNL.

I f
you’re a fan of ‘Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis’, the fake
public-access talk show that Zach Galifianakis has been hosting online, for
three to six minutes a pop, over the last 10 years, then you’ll probably like
‘Between Two Ferns: The Movie’, the snark-lite 82-minute road movie that
Galifianakis and his director and collaborator, Scott Aukerman, have concocted
for Netflix. They don’t repeat the mistake made by the ‘Saturday Night Live’
films – to take a character who worked in short bursts and build him up by
weighing him down with his own sluggish, gear-clanking three-act movie plot.
‘Between Two Ferns: The Movie’ has a ‘storyline’, but it’s more like a thin
semi-visible frame that barely gets in the way of the main attraction, which is
watching Galifianakis tweak and abuse celebrities to their faces in the guise
of interviewing them.

In the opening segment, Zach, in
his cruddy blue blazer, striped computer-nerd shirt, and cheesy brown Asics,
introduces his first guest, Matthew McConaughey (‘All right, all right, all
right. Sorry, I was just reading the box-office returns for your last three
movies’). Glued, with hostile impersonality, to his cue cards, working his way
up from annoying to irritating to insulting, Galifianakis hits McConaughey with
one of those jaw-droppers that give ‘Between Two Ferns’ its
did-he-really-just-go-there? distinction: ‘Who do you think will accidentally
starve himself to death first, you or Christian Bale? You lost so much weight
for that movie, I thought you might die from fake AIDS.’

McConaughey doesn’t have to say
anything in response (and, in fact, he can’t). His face says it all. Then
again, we’re aware, after 10 years of this, that the sight of celebrities
taking umbrage at Zach’s Stuttering John inquiries has become its own form of
performance. To watch ‘Between Two Ferns’ is to play along with the stars
playing along with Galifianakis’ playful skewering-but-hardly-puncturing of the
Hollywood PR machine.

The McConaughey segment ends with
a broken ceiling pipe and a studio flood (don’t ask), at which point Zach, by
order of his Funny or Die boss, Will Ferrell (playing an amusing executive-tyro
coke-head version of himself), is forced to drive around the country hunting
down celebrities so that he can shoot 10 episodes of ‘Between Two Ferns’ in
just two weeks. If he succeeds, he’ll be rewarded by getting his own network
talk show. That’s the whole movie – a bit of concocted fluff that never asks to
be taken on the level, and that allows Galifianakis to oscillate, with his
stoic myopic cunning, between idiocy and ire.

Signature

Flanked by his signature pair of
potted fern plants, he asks a benumbed Keanu Reeves, ‘On a scale of one to 100,
how many words do you know?’ He introduces the fuzzy-white-bearded David
Letterman as the anorexic Santa Claus, and asks Brie Larson how old she was. He
asks Tiffany Haddish if she misses living out of her car, gets into an exchange
with Benedict Cumberbatch over the term ‘rabid fan base’ that turns into a
debate worthy of the Marx Brothers, and says to Jon Hamm, ‘Bradley Cooper
co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in ‘A Star Is Born’. Are you hoping
that will open doors for other people?’ During that interview, Hamm responds
with guffaws so loud that it isn’t clear whether he’s laughing or choking.

‘Between
Two Ferns: The Movie’, like the web-episode curio that spawned it, is a
specimen of comedy, though with less edge than it pretends to have. The
celebrities who come on have no idea what they’re going to be asked, so in a
sense they get ambushed. But it’s not like they don’t know what they’re in for.
And since the format has always been a knockoff of ‘Da Ali G Show’, the
sketch-comedy bombshell that put Sacha Baron Cohen on the map, it’s hard to
watch Galifianakis’s version without being aware of the fundamental difference.
On ‘Da Ali G Show’, the guests really didn’t know that they were on a fake talk
show hosted by a devious I’ll-say-anything idiot savant. They were blindsided,
stripped of media defense mechanisms. And so they revealed themselves. ‘Between
Two Ferns’ is like ‘Da Ali G Show’ made between friends.

At its best, though, the humor
can still slice and draw a small drop of blood. Essentially, it’s the
cut-to-a-celebrity’s-weak-point humor of a Comedy Central Roast, served up in
bite-size nuggets. And Galifianakis is the perfect overgrown delivery boy for
these sorts of scathing anti-feel-good yocks; his passive-aggressive
disaffection keeps everyone, including the audience, off guard. Galifianakis,
who is about to turn 50, remains a bushy-bearded icon of blinkered arrested
development, and he incarnates the twin hallmarks of the Gen-X mindset. He’s a
walking ironic ‘Look, I’m putting everything in air quotes!’ machine (he makes
even a figure of postmodern whimsy like Conan O’Brien look positively sincere).
At the same time, he has never let go of that Gen-X belief in elevating the
acerbic affection for trash culture into a group ritual, a community of kitsch.

That’s the community that ‘Between Two Ferns: The Movie’ celebrates. The film’s off-camera world is like the old demimonde of ‘SCTV’ or ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ – a family of well-meaning handlers who have to manage, and enable, the petty tyrant at their center. The terrific comic actress Lauren Lapkus is a standout as Zach’s assistant, Carol Hunch; her goggle-eyed belief in him, despite the levelheadedness that defines her every move, makes her a magnetic throwback to comedy daffiness. (RTRS) By Owen Gleiberman

I f
you’re a fan of ‘Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis’, the fake
public-access talk show that Zach Galifianakis has been hosting online, for
three to six minutes a pop, over the last 10 years, then you’ll probably like
‘Between Two Ferns: The Movie’, the snark-lite 82-minute road movie that
Galifianakis and his director and collaborator, Scott Aukerman, have concocted
for Netflix. They don’t repeat the mistake made by the ‘Saturday Night Live’
films – to take a character who worked in short bursts and build him up by
weighing him down with his own sluggish, gear-clanking three-act movie plot.
‘Between Two Ferns: The Movie’ has a ‘storyline’, but it’s more like a thin
semi-visible frame that barely gets in the way of the main attraction, which is
watching Galifianakis tweak and abuse celebrities to their faces in the guise
of interviewing them.

In the opening segment, Zach, in
his cruddy blue blazer, striped computer-nerd shirt, and cheesy brown Asics,
introduces his first guest, Matthew McConaughey (‘All right, all right, all
right. Sorry, I was just reading the box-office returns for your last three
movies’). Glued, with hostile impersonality, to his cue cards, working his way
up from annoying to irritating to insulting, Galifianakis hits McConaughey with
one of those jaw-droppers that give ‘Between Two Ferns’ its
did-he-really-just-go-there? distinction: ‘Who do you think will accidentally
starve himself to death first, you or Christian Bale? You lost so much weight
for that movie, I thought you might die from fake AIDS.’

McConaughey doesn’t have to say
anything in response (and, in fact, he can’t). His face says it all. Then
again, we’re aware, after 10 years of this, that the sight of celebrities
taking umbrage at Zach’s Stuttering John inquiries has become its own form of
performance. To watch ‘Between Two Ferns’ is to play along with the stars
playing along with Galifianakis’ playful skewering-but-hardly-puncturing of the
Hollywood PR machine.

The McConaughey segment ends with
a broken ceiling pipe and a studio flood (don’t ask), at which point Zach, by
order of his Funny or Die boss, Will Ferrell (playing an amusing executive-tyro
coke-head version of himself), is forced to drive around the country hunting
down celebrities so that he can shoot 10 episodes of ‘Between Two Ferns’ in
just two weeks. If he succeeds, he’ll be rewarded by getting his own network
talk show. That’s the whole movie – a bit of concocted fluff that never asks to
be taken on the level, and that allows Galifianakis to oscillate, with his
stoic myopic cunning, between idiocy and ire.

Signature

Flanked by his signature pair of
potted fern plants, he asks a benumbed Keanu Reeves, ‘On a scale of one to 100,
how many words do you know?’ He introduces the fuzzy-white-bearded David
Letterman as the anorexic Santa Claus, and asks Brie Larson how old she was. He
asks Tiffany Haddish if she misses living out of her car, gets into an exchange
with Benedict Cumberbatch over the term ‘rabid fan base’ that turns into a
debate worthy of the Marx Brothers, and says to Jon Hamm, ‘Bradley Cooper
co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in ‘A Star Is Born’. Are you hoping
that will open doors for other people?’ During that interview, Hamm responds
with guffaws so loud that it isn’t clear whether he’s laughing or choking.

‘Between
Two Ferns: The Movie’, like the web-episode curio that spawned it, is a
specimen of comedy, though with less edge than it pretends to have. The
celebrities who come on have no idea what they’re going to be asked, so in a
sense they get ambushed. But it’s not like they don’t know what they’re in for.
And since the format has always been a knockoff of ‘Da Ali G Show’, the
sketch-comedy bombshell that put Sacha Baron Cohen on the map, it’s hard to
watch Galifianakis’s version without being aware of the fundamental difference.
On ‘Da Ali G Show’, the guests really didn’t know that they were on a fake talk
show hosted by a devious I’ll-say-anything idiot savant. They were blindsided,
stripped of media defense mechanisms. And so they revealed themselves. ‘Between
Two Ferns’ is like ‘Da Ali G Show’ made between friends.

At its best, though, the humor
can still slice and draw a small drop of blood. Essentially, it’s the
cut-to-a-celebrity’s-weak-point humor of a Comedy Central Roast, served up in
bite-size nuggets. And Galifianakis is the perfect overgrown delivery boy for
these sorts of scathing anti-feel-good yocks; his passive-aggressive
disaffection keeps everyone, including the audience, off guard. Galifianakis,
who is about to turn 50, remains a bushy-bearded icon of blinkered arrested
development, and he incarnates the twin hallmarks of the Gen-X mindset. He’s a
walking ironic ‘Look, I’m putting everything in air quotes!’ machine (he makes
even a figure of postmodern whimsy like Conan O’Brien look positively sincere).
At the same time, he has never let go of that Gen-X belief in elevating the
acerbic affection for trash culture into a group ritual, a community of kitsch.

That’s the community that
‘Between Two Ferns: The Movie’ celebrates. The film’s off-camera world is like
the old demimonde of ‘SCTV’ or ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ – a family of
well-meaning handlers who have to manage, and enable, the petty tyrant at their
center. The terrific comic actress Lauren Lapkus is a standout as Zach’s
assistant, Carol Hunch; her goggle-eyed belief in him, despite the
levelheadedness that defines her every move, makes her a magnetic throwback to
comedy daffiness. (RTRS)

By Owen Gleiberman

MENAFN2209201900960000ID1099034831

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