The other night I sat down to watch Netflix's new comedy Between Two Ferns: The Movie and then spent the next 80 minutes or so not laughing. I wanted to. But it just wasn't funny. At all.
What it was, was terrible. The only genuine laughs coming when the film finished and a bunch of bloopers rolled alongside the credits. What they should have done is scrapped the trash film and just given us 80 minutes of outtakes. That woulda been far, far funnier and I'd be recommending it unequivocally. But they didn't.
Instead, Between Two Ferns: The Movie sees the movie's star, comedian Zach Galifianakis, playing out his played out schtick between two segments. There's the purposefully awkward, willfully mean interviews with celebrity guests coupled with a road trip story that serves to shuffle Galifianakis from one celeb to the next.
But unlike Sacha Baron Cohen's recent, devastating series Who Is America? where the interviewees had no idea they were being set up, here the celebrities are entirely in on the joke. Bereft of their ignorance there's no opportunity for an honest reaction which renders the interviews entirely toothless.
Still, at least he can ask funny questions, right? "When did you get your first period?" he asks Captain Marvel 's Brie Larson. LOL? No.
Ok, that's not entirely fair. There's a few decent quips scattered in the film - "On a scale of one to 100, how many words do you know?" he asks Keanu Reeves. Later interviewing Awkwafina, one of the star's of Ocean's 8 , he muses that he'd, "love to see an all male reboot," of the film.
Humorous, yes, but mildly so and not really worth the interminable wait between them.
The celebrity guests like Paul Rudd, Matthew McConaughey and Tessa Thompson may find it knee slappingly funny being on the receiving end of his roasts, but the best I got out of it was a bemused 'heh'.
This, friends, is the "funny" part of the movie. A direct continuation of Galifianakis' Between Two Ferns web series which would serve up short, quick blat episodes that you could sneak a peek at during your workday for a guaranteed LOL before alt-tabbing back to your Word doc or Excel spreadsheet.
But in the context of a movie, with all the weight of expectation that brings with it, the concept just doesn't stand up.
And that's before we even get to the movie part of the movie. Dearie me. The road trip portion of the film which strings the interviews together is pretty much pointless. Perhaps there's an argument to be made that the pointlessness of it is the point. But if that's the case then why is it so lazy?
The road trip concept is a tired and hoary conceit that lurks at the bottom of the ideas barrel. Yes, Galifianakis' brand is anti-humour and oddity but that's no excuse for going with the cheapest and dumbest first idea that he come up with.
But its biggest problem is that the bite sized humour of the very funny web series just can't be stretched out and stuffed into the structure and rigidity of a feature film. But you don't have to take my word for it, the movie's mercifully brief 83 minute running time is testament to that.
So why is this a thing? I had plenty of time to ponder on that while I wasn't laughing and the only plausible explanation I could come up with was that Netflix wanted a Between Two Ferns series but there was some problem getting the rights.
Some money got thrown around, some palms got greased and voilà, a Ferns movie got the greenlight. That's the only way this thing begins to make sense.
Still, freed from any box office commercial concern I can't help but wish Galifianakis had pushed the boat out with the movie a whole lot more. That he'd taken his concept and really ran wild with it to make something as peculiar, odd and weirdly funny as his reputation would lead you to expect. That he'd at least attempted - attempted - to be bold and daring by taking Netflix's money and making something actually worth a damn.
But no. Instead he made a handful of new episodes and tied them together with a lazy clichéd story that offers neither big laughs nor any ambition and I can't decide which is worse. Sadly, Between Two Ferns: The Movie wilters.