There are many things of note in the new Netflix film “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” (2019). Mainly, ferns and comedians. It doesn’t veer away from its structure that made it a hit web series: Zach Galifianakis awkwardly interviews celebrities, the interviews sometimes descending into hostility.
The premise is technically a thing that exists in this movie too. Galifianakis is a loser working on public access television in North Carolina when he almost drowns and kills Matthew McConaughey. His punishment from bolo-tie wielding Will Ferrell is to make more episodes of “Between Two Ferns.” It’s a pretty dumb setup to allow the interview bit to repeat and for the comedy to ensue, à la SNL films from the past like “Night at the Roxbury” (1998) or “Tommy Boy” (1995).
The funniest part of “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” is what is between the two ferns. Watching Galifianakis push the boundaries of social norms and conventional interviews is still funny. There are some humorous moments with Paul Rudd, Keanu Reeves and the wife-lover himself Chance the Rapper, but after about half an hour of Galifianakis misreading names or asking incredibly rude and direct questions, the most interesting part of the film becomes apparent.
The best part of “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” is still between the two ferns, it’s just below them as well: the shoes. As you start to see interview after interview, interspersed with narrative scenes, the “Between Two Ferns” sets start to blend together, so you notice what stands out or the few things that separate each interview from the next.
For someone it could be the jackets, of which there are a myriad of in this film. Awkwafina sports a pretty cool black overcoat, and John Legend wears a maroon suit that is smooth and something only John Legend could pull off.
But for some reason, maybe due to footwear’s cultural supremacy right now, the most interesting thing to see is what each celebrity is wearing on their feet.
Let’s look at a few examples to highlight the quality of the footwear. First off, David Letterman wears brown leather cowboy boots. It’s still slightly weird to see Letterman have this totally different post-late night persona, but you have to respect someone at 72 years old casually wearing cowboy boots as their choice of shoes.
The ageless Paul Rudd, in what is definitely one of the funnier interviews in the film, shows off black and red Chelsea boots, which to the best estimate appear to be Blundstones. With his legs crossed for the entire interview, the boots aren’t cut off by the frame or pant leg, but are the centerpiece of an outfit that wants to be Bob Dylan so badly.
Zack Galifianakis interestingly starts with a pair of worn red Asics, but after they get soaked he seems to stick with what appears to be a pair of brown moccasins for the rest of the film. It makes sense; if you’re going to do interview after interview you might as well be comfortable.
The list goes on and on, though: Benedict Cumberbatch wears a high fashion pair of white sneakers, which honestly feels very fitting for Benedict Cumberbatch. Jon Hamm laces up in what looks between a cross between high top Converse and Reebok ZigTech (RIP).
After so many interviews, the focus of the film switches from “what are the jokes going to be?” to “what shoes are they wearing?” All in all, you can’t help but marvel at some of the choices, in good ways and bad. It becomes a way to judge the celebrities we see in the short amount of time they’re on screen. You can’t help but examine their choices and infer some traits about their personalities.
Most of the time in film, when celebrities are on camera they’re in costume as their character. However, since each celebrity in this film is playing themselves, this is one of the few times in films or television where we get to see celebrities dressed how they would normally dress.
Not to extrapolate, but since this film uses the awareness of celebrity as a tool for humor, it would only be fair to use their celebrity style either for or against them as well. Who knows how much say these people really have in their wardrobe? It’s still amazing to see all the different choices across a sample size of our favorite actors and actresses and see how they differ, and in turn what it makes us think about them.