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Non-Review Review: Between Two Ferns – The Movie

Between Two Ferns: The Movie offers an abstract take on cringe comedy.

The film is an adaptation of the cult web series, which finds Zach Galifianakis planning a fictionalised version of himself. The basic set-up involves Galifianakis inviting on a particularly famous guest, and the interview coming very quickly off the rails. It often descends into awkward silence, although occasionally exchanges get a little punchier. The whole premise is a riff on the absurdity and tedium of celebrity interviews, which very rarely result in something so skin-crawlingly embarrassing, but can still feel deeply uncomfortable for both audience and participants.

At a crossroads.

The Movie wraps a framing device around that set-up, expanding the world of its fictionalised Galifianakis by offering a broader context for the viral web interviews. In the world of the film, Galifianakis is a small-town public access television host whose work has been distributed online by a cocaine-addled Will Ferrell. Ferrell has exploited this “grotesque” as a twenty-first century freak show, which has become a runaway success according to the click counters that Ferrell keeps on his office wall or even carries around in his pocket at all times.

The Movie adopts a familiar enough plot structure for this kind of adventure. It escalates the stakes while providing a framework for episodic encounters. After one particularly disastrous interview, Ferrell sets Galifianakis a challenge. If Galifianakis can land ten celebrity interviews on a road trip, Ferrell will secure his top seller a Lifetime (not life-time) chat show slot. So Galifianakis sets off on a road trip in the style of David Brent: Life on the Road, with a band of misfits sidekicks for a collection of broad comedic set pieces that run the gamut from genuinely hilarious to disappointingly repetitive.

That sinking feeling.

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Non-Review Review: Magic Mike XXL

Well, if you’re going to do a sequel, it’s not a bad bet to go bigger.

Magic Mike XXL is a film that knows exactly what its audience wants, making a point to emphasise that this same attribute is what makes the “male entertainers” at the heart of the film so special. At one point, young heart throb Ken serenades his audience with a D’Angelo’s Untitled (How Does It Feel?), perfectly setting for the tone. Magic Mike XXL knows what its viewers are demanding, and dedicates itself to shamelessly satisfying their needs. The audience wants more, and they get more.

The problem with Magic Mike XXL is that it goes just a little bit too big. Bigger is not always better, as “male entertainer” (“Big”) Dick Richie discovers, spending the entire movie searching for the metaphorical “glass slipper.” The original Magic Mike ran a little bit too long at ten minutes short of two hours. Magic Mike XXL extends that runtime by twenty minutes. The result is a film that feels rather bloated. The pacing could be tighter. Some trimming and cutting might have served the film well.

Nevertheless, Magic Mike XXL maintains a lot of the charm and positive energy that made the original such a surprise hit. There is nothing wrong with trying to please your audience, even if there is such a thing as too much teasing.

Is the magic back?

Is the magic back?

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