Synopsis – Derek and Hansel are lured into modeling again, in Rome, where they find themselves the target of a sinister conspiracy.
My Take – In the currently running season of late sequels, comes another installment of a film released 15 years ago. The original “Zoolander” accumulated a worldwide box office gross of $60.8 million on a budget of $28 million. It developed a life of its own on video and DVD, hereby becoming a cult hit. I love Ben Stiller! Their is hardly a film of his I didn’t like (2007s The Heartbreak Kid being the last one probably). So was this sequel worth the wait? Did it have to be made? The answer to both questions is a resounding ‘no’. There’s just not enough story material to stretch the length to over 100 minutes. It’s a flimsy story with many unfunny scenes but there’s still enough amusing moments to justify your time and money. I really liked the original Zoolander, with its unique brand of cleverly dumb comedy, but I never thought we needed a sequel. Nonetheless, when the sequel was announced, I was looking forward to it, and with a couple of pretty entertaining trailers, I thought that this wasn’t going to be one of those awful comedy sequels. The main problem with this film lies in the story line. There’s not much to work with and it doesn’t help when a lot of the scenes linger to try to eke out any laughs from the jokes. When the actors are trying this hard to make viewers laugh without succeeding then you know that the original cult status should have remained untouched as the sequel might damage its credibility. What saves this film is the likability factor of both Derek and Hansel, plus the way they react together. The story follows Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) years after he has gone into seclusion after the death of his wife (Christine Taylor) who was crushed under a building constructed by Zoolander for children with poor reading skills.
His son, Derek Jr (Cyrus Arnold) has been sent to an orphanage in Rome by the court because Derek was deemed as an unfit father. Meanwhile, Derek’s main rival in the modeling world, Hansel (Owen Wilson), has also retired due to a facial injury suffered during the same building collapse that killed Derek’s wife. He has been living in a hippie commune which also includes Kiefer Sutherland playing himself. They are brought together when famous celebrities like Justin Bieber have been killed, but before taking their last breath, they post a Derek Zoolander ‘Blue Steel’ look on social media. Interpol agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz) recognizes that look and calls upon Derek and Hansel to investigate just who is killing all those celebrities. At the same time, Derek tries to reconnect with his son when his investigations take him to the same city where is now residing. If you haven’t seen the original “Zoolander”, you could still see the sequel as the opening scenes are a news montage of what has happened to Derek since being the king of the modeling world. You get a fair idea of who Derek Zoolander is and what his accomplishments were from this montage. If you are familiar with the personality of Derek then you’ll know that he is a child trapped in a man’s body. And that’s still the case 15 years later. He mangles the English language and finds himself in situations that test his limited intelligence. The original Zoolander wasn’t a dumb film, in fact it was a really clever comedy that centered around a dumb character. The jokes were well-written, and the majority of the humor stemmed from those main characters. In the sequel, however, the comedy is just dumb. Relying way too heavily on celebrity cameos for cheap laughs (Kiefer Sutherland‘s in particular, channeling a gay Jack Bauer is hilarious), and just completely underwhelming gags on a constant basis, there’s very little to laugh at. Whilst the first film had a clear focus, Derek being brainwashed to kill the Malaysian Prime Minister, everything in the sequel is all over the place. Just like before, Derek and Hansel are as comically dumb as ever and the mix of double-ententes, over-the-top sight gags and ridiculous dialog and situations kept between them kept me laughing, but was that enough? Nope. I will admit I chuckled a couple of times.
Benedict Cumberbatch‘s slightly offensive transgender character that you’ve seen in the trailers was pretty good, and a couple of the jokes they did satirizing modern social media and hipsters etc. weren’t too bad either. If you like to play the game of spot the celebrities, you will be in for a fun time. Just about every major fashion designer has a cameo along with celebrity appearances from the movie and music world including Susan Sarandon, Milla Jovovich, Macauley Culkin, Billy Zane, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Sting, Kate Moss and the list goes on! It probably has the most cameos ever in a movie. As star, director and co-writer, Stiller tries to give us a sequel that remains true to his 2001 version and is fairly entertaining on its own, but it seemed he has failed to realize the audience has grown up. Comedy sequels are tough to do, but normally, by keeping everything pretty similar, you can get an entertaining movie. The problem with this film is that it completely fails to deliver the brilliant sense of humor that first film had. While the characters remain likable, placing them in a more suited situation would have worked well for the film. Ben Stiller continues to play the titular role to perfection and he maintains an excellent rapport with Owen Wilson who delights in his role as Stiller‘s ex rival & now best friend. Other cast members don’t fare as well. Ferrell reprises his role as Mugatu from the first film and he is in overacting mode along with Wiig is completely underwhelmed & unrecognizable as Mugatu’s co- conspirator. Cruz adds sex appeal and sauciness in her sidekick role to Derek. On the whole, ‘Zoolander No. 2’ is a painfully disappointing film, which tries too hard to resonate the success of its predecessor. The audience who loved the original “Zoolander,” and may indeed love this one as well, usually justify or defend their love by claiming that the film is ‘just so stupid you have to laugh’, but as a fan myself it would have to be a hell of a lot funnier next time around to keep me interested, which seems unlikely now thanks to Deadpool.
Director – Ben Stiller
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 132 minutes