2016, PG-13, 108 mins.
2016, PG-13, 108 mins.
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander / Owen Wilson as Hansel / Will Ferrell as Mugatu / Penélope Cruz as Valentina / Kristen Wiig as Alexanya Atoz / Benedict Cumberbatch as All / Christine Taylor as Matilda Jeffries / Cyrus Arnold as Derek Jr. / Justin Bieber as Himself / Beck Bennett as Geoff Mille
Directed by Ben Stiller / Written by Stiller, Justin Theroux, Nicholas Stoller, and John Hamburg
I typically love comedies about hopelessly clueless idiots.
probably why I adored the first ZOOLANDER film back in 2001, which
featured a main character as intellectually vacant as they came that
paraded around in a delightfully madcap and hilarious send up of the
fashion industry as a whole. Probably
only second to the first ANCHORMAN as
one of the most quoted comedies of the 2000’s, ZOOLANDER was a
really, really, really ridiculously bad looking victim of release timing.
Coming out two weeks after 9/11, Ben Stiller’s film failed to
connect with an audience base that was still in a place of deep mourning.
Even though a box office disappointment, the comedy went on to
achieve a cherished cult status, and fans of the pouty mouthed, Blue Steel
adorned model that was amazing at delivering “eugooglies” demanded a sequel.
2, much like its antecedent, is also a victim of its own poor timing.
Movies like DUMB AND DUMBER TO
proved that successfully launching follow-up efforts to established comedy
classics well after the fact is a daunting challenge in terms of
maintaining the original's spirited momentum of capricious energy.
It’s been over 15 years since Derek Zoolander and Hansel (he’s still
so hot right now!) brought their endearingly oblivious and blissfully
empty minded hijinks to the silver screen, and some would easily argue
that it’s all a bit too little, too late for the series.
The best accolade I could say about ZOOLANDER 2 is that it’s
still a supreme pleasure witnessing Stiller and Owen Wilson together again
screen, seeing as they have an effortless and unforced chemistry
when playing morons of the highest order. Like the previous entry, the sequel also embraces its sheer
ludicrousness without apologizing for it, not to mention that its jabs at
the fashion and media industry stings with an infectiously subversive
edge. Unfortunately, an
overall lack of inspired freshness taints this film.
That, and for every spirited gag that Stiller nails, there’s an
unpardonable number of others that sit listlessly on the screen begging
least the film opens with Justin Bieber’s murder, which is as perversely
funny as it sounds (especially in terms of how the young pop star takes
seemingly forever to find just the right Instagram filter for his
pre-death selfie). It appears
that someone is killing off a whole whack of attractive celebrities, and
Fashion Interpol – lead by Valentina (Penelope Cruz) – is desperate to
uncover the perpetrator. She
realizes that the only person alive (uh-huh) that may be able to piece
together the clues to help Interpol find the killer is Derek Zoolander…who
has essentially vanished off of the face of the earth.
As shown in the first film, Derek was one of the most adored male
models in his industry, but he has long since become a “hermit-crab”
after the accidental death of his wife Matilda.
She was killed when the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t
Read Good imploded due to shoddy construction right on top of her.
It appears that poor Derek used the same building materials for
it…that was used on its small-scale architectural model.
does manage to locate Derek – with some help from, of course, Billy Zane
– in “Extreme Northern New Jersey,” where the former fashion icon
with chiseled abs and stunning features has been reduced to the shell of
the man he once was. He longs
to get back to the top of the fashion world and re-unite with his
estranged son, who's now living in an orphanage due to Derek’s
inordinately bad parenting. The
deeply depressed and reclusive Derek begrudgingly decides to come out of
hiding (miraculously, Uber shows up to take him away from his “remote”
hiding spot) and joins up not only with Valentina, but also with his old BFF
Hansel to uncover the murderous plot to kill the world’s most attractive
people. It doesn’t take too
long for them to realize that Derek’s arch-nemesis in Mugatu (Will
Ferrell) is pulling all the strings with his co-conspirator Alexanya Atoz
(Kristen Wiig), a fashion god that is hilariously gifted at meticulously
mispronouncing simple words.
a positive, ZOOLANDER 2 showcases its two main heroes at their most
endearingly stupid and it’s such a treat to see Stiller and Wilson
play off of one another in attempts to see which one will say the most
perplexingly senseless thing next. Some
of their conversations border of the sublimely absurd, such as one
uproarious exchange where they debate – in front of Derek’s son, who's
a bit more obese than he was expecting – as to whether fat children are
inherently social abominations. The
film generates some hearty gags at the expense of Derek’s inane attempts
at reconnecting with his long lost child, especially during one hysterical
scene where he makes a categorical error in judgment using a selfie stick
to take a pic of himself with his kid…while behind the wheel of his car
in heavy traffic. Hansel also
has his own share of amusing problems on the home front, seeing as he’s
battling the anxiety of becoming a father to multiple children from
multiple lovers…one of them being Kiefer Sutherland.
heartily laughed several times during ZOOLANDER 2, but there’s simply no
denying that the film is filled with too many bridging scenes between its
amusing moments that elicited silence at the screening I was
attending. The original film
was a lean and trim 90 minutes (the perfect length for this type of
perpetually silly material) and was fast and loose with its jokes to the
point where there was relatively little dead space anywhere to be found in
the film. ZOOLANDER 2 clocks
in at a much longer running time, which really begins to show its
self-indulgent bloat early on. This
sequel is certainly bigger in terms of scope than its predecessor, but
that doesn’t make it inherently funnier.
Considering that it’s written by the likes of Stiller, Justin
Theroux, Josh Hamburg, and Nicholas Stoller, ZOOLANDER 2 feels lazily and
haphazardly constructed at the best of times.
It takes an awfully long time for its central story to kick off
(which is sad to witness considering the snap and sizzle of the first
film’s comedic energy), and when the film strains to find genuine
merriment in Derek’s predicaments it shoehorns in some inexplicably
bizarre celeb cameos into the mix looking to score would-be knee-slapping
guffaws. An appearance by
former Britain’s Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle – during which time
she flips the bird at paparazzi – would have proven hysterical 7-8 years
ago…but in this film now it feels insipidly out of synch.
2 does receive a much-needed jolt of unpredictable vivacity when
Ferrell’s Mugatu appears. His lengthy prison sentence (based on crimes committed in the
last film) has changed him into a lethally dangerous hipster-killing
machine (a very funny, audience placating murder that only Ferrell can
somehow make droll). He’s
well teamed with the disappointingly underutilized Wiig, who scores big
laughs merely based on her garishly cringe-worthy façade and vocal timbre
alone. ZOOLANDER 2, to its credit, goes for broke in its
incredulously logic-defying, but entertainingly zany climax that seemingly
throws everything at the screen – including real life fashion design
icons, a ritualistic human sacrifice involving ripping Derek’s son’s
heart out of his chest, a pool of lava, and, yes, the climatic
reveal of Hansel’s biological father in the form of a very famous singer
– in hopes of building to a comedic crescendo.
Unfortunately, the stilted build-up towards the film’s
beyond-bonkers third act is a mostly lethargic one.
all too bad. I love this
cast. I love seeing them –
once again – throwing their respective egos out the windows in order to
do anything to make us smile (their collective willingness to make absolute
fools of themselves in these films is thanklessly commendable).
I love the very idea of the ZOOLANDER universe taking much needed
shots at celebrity culture. And,
most importantly, I love Derek Zoolander and Hansel as a charmingly
vacuous characters. But I
simply couldn’t bring myself to love ZOOLANDER 2.
For a film a decade-plus in the making, it feels too hastily
assembled and, for the most part, it’s simply not funny enough to be a worthy follow-up entry. Instead
of taking the bizarrely outlandish world of Derek Zoolander to new and
invigorating satiric heights, it appears that the makers here were just
sheepishly writing the franchise’s eugoogly in order to move on to other
Earth to Stiller: we deserved better than this after a painfully long wait.