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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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135. Holmes and Watson – This Just In (-#100)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, Etan Cohen’s Holmes and Watson.

In turn-of-the-century London, the fiend James Moriarty prepares to face trial. His conviction rests upon the testimony of heroic detective Sherlock Holmes. However, Holmes makes a startling deduction about the identity of the man in the dock, which sets in motion a whirlwind comedic misadventure.

At time of recording, it was ranked 100th on the Internet Movie Database‘s list of the worst movies of all-time.

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Non-Review Review: Daddy’s Home

Daddy’s Home is fairly mediocre comedy, despite the promise. In some respects, the film recalls very successful Will Ferrell vehicles. The premise of the film is fairly solid, with father and step-father competing with one another for the love of their children; it loosely resembles a middle-aged version of the awkward immaturity that made Step-Brothers such fun. The film features the unlikely comedic team of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, two actors who had played very well off one another in The Other Guys.

The problem is simply one of calibration. Daddy’s Home struggles to pitch itself at the right level, never finding the right balance between sincere and cynical. It seems trite to complain that the protagonists of a modern comedy are unlikable or unsympathetic, but Daddy’s Home never feels like it finds an emotional core. This is not a fatal flaw of itself, but it becomes a problem when Daddy’s Home cannot supply a steady stream of laughs.

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Non-Review Review: Anchorman 2 – The Legend Continues

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is perhaps twenty minutes too long, and indulges in a little bit too much of the nostalgia common in comedy sequels during its final act, but it’s a movie with its heart in the right place. More message-driven than its direct predecessor, and much more of an ensemble piece, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is an enjoyable example of the sorts of cringe comedy that made the original such a cult classic. While it might not measure up perfectly, it ranks quite highly among the annals of comedy sequels.

Jumping for joy?

Jumping for joy?

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Watch! Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Trailer!

Via Paramount, here’s the latest trailer for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which is being released in December. It’s a pretty big deal. Eagle-eyed viewers will spot some RTÉ footage in there. Great Odin’s raven!

 

Watch! New Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Trailer!

Comedy sequels are, as a rule, a dodgy proposition. After all, you generally assume that the first film – if was successful – had really mined the premise for all it was worth. There’s a tendency to turn comedy sequels into remakes starring the same cast, as there’s an understandable reluctance to meddle too heavily with a successful formula and cast. So I’ll admit that I am a little nervous about Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Still, the trailer looks promising, and updating the characters to the eighties (complete with obligatory Journey soundtrack) could provide enough of a shake-up to keep things interesting. It helps that the original film has – I’d argue – one of the great comedy ensembles, and I trust Ferrell, Carrell, Rudd and Koechner to keep the sequel fresh. It looks worth a shot at least, and it certainly reminds me of what I liked so much about the original Anchorman without seeming like too much of a retread.

Check it out below.

Non-Review Review: The Campaign

The Campaign is hardly the most complex piece of political satire ever written. In fact, the movie suffers a great deal because its observations about political corruption feel fairly superficial. The relationship between donors and politicians, and the sway that what the movie terms “big money” has over elected officials, are hardly cutting insights into the way that lobbying and electioneering actually works. To be fair, there is something in the way that the movie parodies the tendency of US elections to get incredibly dirty incredibly fast, but The Campaign ultimately winds up feeling a little superficial.

That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of wit to be found here. Both Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are skilled comedians, even when the material isn’t necessarily up to scratch. And in order to make fun of the extreme rhetoric that such campaigns may involve, the movie occasionally pushes itself into the realm of the surreal. However, its observations and its targets seem so obvious that the movie can also be remarkably frustrating.

A candid(ate) look at the electoral process?

A candid(ate) look at the electoral process?

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