This review of Zoolander 2 arrives almost 2 months late, after the film opened and was promptly buried by negative criticism. For more of this kind of late criticism check out the other articles on my blog.
Any movie that begins with Justin Bieber being shot to death in slow motion for a prolonged measure of time cannot be truly bad in my book.
This is the one thing that I keep coming back to when judging whether Zoolander No. 2 was good or not. Since it was released in January, it’s burned so brightly attracting a large volume of negative criticism before being dropped and forgotten about. Twolander is the long anticipated sequel to Ben Stiller’s 2001 cult comedy. When it was first released, Zoolander gained modest success at the box office but it was only until word of mouth played its part that the movie suddenly gained cult status and thusly viable for a glossy sequel, some 15 years after the fact.
The plot then. If you can call it a plot…
Tragedy has befallen Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) through events that directly proceded the first movie. Derek has left the modelling profession behind and lives as a hermit in a snowy wilderness. After several famous celebrities are murdered after posting selfies of themselves doing blue steel, Derek is called back into action to unearth a brand new conspiracy that lies at the heart of the fashion industry.
Along the way he is reunited with old friend and former model Hansel (Owen Wilson) and Interpol agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz) to uncover the mystery that may or may not involve Alexanya Atoz or Mugatu (Will Ferrel) or even Derek’s estranged son Derek Jnr. All the while Derek and Hansel must contend with being old and irrelevant within a fashion industry and world that has largely moved on.
The plot, to paraphrase another Will Ferrel in another Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson comedy gets weird. There are presumably lots of things in the fashion world, that a sequel to Zoolander could potentially use as a basis to create a plot. The premise of the first movie involved dim witted models being used as sleeper agents to assassinate opposers of child labour, one of the clothing industry’s big skeletons in its closet. The premise of Zoolander 2 surrounds a bunch of bad guys attempting to seek the living fountain of youth, the descendant of the third secret member of the Garden of Eden and drink their blood in an attempt to stay young and beautiful forever.
No, it’s not very good. Stiller had supposedly been developing Zoolander 2 for several years – waiting for the right macguffin to come together. This was this really the best he could have come up with?
The plot is ultimately a vessel in which the sequel recycles jokes of the first movie, whilst including copious amounts of celebrity cameos to keep things going, because god forbid they come up with any new jokes. As with Anchorman 2, Zoolander 2 suffers from one too many cameos. Everybody loved the original movies so much, they’re all desperate to play part, no matter how small, in the sequel. To name a few, you get Bieber, Naomi Campbell, Skrillex, Susan Boyle, Kiefer Sutherland, Katy Perry and Neil Degrasse Tyson.
Some cameos are funny. Throw enough shit at the wall, and some of it will inevitably stick. Benedict Cumberbatch plays an androgynous model named All, who has replaced Derek and Hansel as being the hottest model in the world right now. The aforementioned Justin Bieber cameo is just so great. The sight of him getting peppered with bullets is great but his indecision to select the right filter for his dying Instagram photo is also one of the Twolander’s funnier moments.
However, most of the cameos feel very redundant. Keither Sutherland has a hilarious joke about having a miscarriage. Naomi Campbell appears in the ‘centaur cow’ milking advert (the sequel’s ‘merman’ moment) would feel funnier if her presence wasn’t the focus of the advert, which is quite a funny sendup of those ridiculous adverts you see. A certain rock star cameo apes the appearance of David Bowie in the first movie, but just serves to remind you that Bowie isn’t with us anymore.
Zoolander was about poking fun at the shallowness and stupidity of the zeitgeist culture in which the fashion world and cult of celebrity are so deeply entrenched. Including so many however does begin to dilute the mix. To paraphrase Nathan Barley, at first the celebrities were peering in at the window, but now in Zoolander 2 they have all entered the building and it’s just not as funny anymore.
That said, I can’t truly say that I didn’t enjoy Zoolander 2. There are more than a couple of good laughs in amongst the misfires and I don’t think it’s completely deserved of all the hate people have been directed towards it. It’s a good bit better than Anchorman 2, and feels like three hours shorter. I was always a sucker for the Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson double act. Stiller’s uptightedness and earnest doofusness works well with Wilson’s surfer styled looseness.
The first movie is still better by a large margin and you’ll likely forget all about it within a week. The only reason I’m posting this review is because I noticed I had still sitting in amongst all my other drafted posts.
In the end, it all comes down to this. Any movie that begins with Justin Bieber being killed onscreen cannot be truly awful in my book.
Starsky & Hutch 
Drop Dead Gorgeous 
If you really want to see a funny movie about the whole exercise of people being judged by how good looking they are, you could watch Miss Congeniality, but you’d be better served watching the 1999 black comedy mocumentary – Drop Dead Gorgeous. Set around a small town beauty pageant, it’s humour is fast, sharp and often pitch black. Y’know, like your mum’s taste in men who aren’t your dad. That’s right, I know what’s going on. Prick.
This bloody advert
The idiots. They’re winning.