It’s always been an act of revenge, this “Between Two Ferns” mock chat show that Zach Galfianakis brought to Funny or Die.com
He has his revenge on a universe of folks who can’t pronounce his damned name. He gets even for all the inane and downright insulting questions he’s been asked since popping out of “The Hangover” movies, a Carolina comic with a character actor’s gut under that ever-unruly mop of hair.
But here’s a little Netflix money to celebrate the eleven years of inviting celebrities to sit with him, “Between Two Ferns,” to hear him get their names wrong — to ask questions that are more challenges, insults delivered at a “Comedy Central Roast.”
A little back story about the cable access channel “in Flinch, N.C.,” where he does the show, a flimsy “road trip” premise, 82 minutes delivered to the embattled streaming giant, cash their check. Badabing badaboom.
Guess what? The concept, mostly viewed in short snippets on Funny or Die, still works. He opens with his funniest new bit, a classic assault on Matthew “Mack? Muck? Mc-CON aw-way.”
“I notice you’re wearing a shirt. Is everything all right?”
He wants to compare scars with Keanu Reeves, the actor’s from a motorcycle accident, Zach’s acquired while “walking out on the movie ‘Lakehouse.'”
It’s all praise for an actor who is “just a man with below average intelligence.”
“Have you ever considered researching a character who was taking acting lessons?”
Galifianakis has a deadpan way of hitting stars with these zingers that is so disarming that we think he’s got permission to be that mean. Which he does. It’s implied. Just as it was for the chat show spoof this borrows from, Martin Short’s “Jiminy Glick.”
But stay through the closing credits. The outtakes show us spit takes as Paul Rudd hears the “advice to young actors who want to hide their Jewishness as well as you have” for the first time.
The framing story? Zach’s dream, to host a network talk show, can be realized if he, his producer, sound mixer and camerman (Lauren Lapkus, Ryan Gaul, Jiavani Linayao) can dash across country, catching an attention-desperate Jon Hamm signing autographs in a church, Tessa Thompson in her element, Peter Dinklage in the lap of overpaid luxury, piling up interviews for a “Two Ferns” movie for Funny or Die emperor Will Ferrell.
So Brie Larson has to sit through a “question” about her superhero movie — “‘Captain Marvel?’ Boy, they really have stopped trying,” Benedict Cumberbatch perfects his side-eye, Tiffany Haddish lets us hear her real (maybe hungover), unguarded laugh.
And Chrissy Teigen comes on to Zach in a bar, only to have her husband John Legend storm in and charmingly DEMAND to be on the show. Here’s the best insult aimed at him.
“Can I get an autograph? For my mom? Because she wants to give it to HER mom!”
It’s not much of a “Movie,” but the bottom line is that Galifianakis, the interviews and those being subjected to them are still funny. Enjoy a beverage while watching and you’ll be doing your own spit takes.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, sexual situations, lots of profanity
Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Brie Larson, Rashida Jones, Matthew McConaughey, Paul Rudd, Tessa Thompson, Lauren Lapkus, Ryan Gaul, Jiavani Linayao
Credits: Written and directed by Scott Aukerman. A Funny or Die/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:22