DIRECTOR: Ben Stiller
RELEASE DATE: 02/12/2016
STARRING: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell,
Penélope Cruz, Benedict Cumberbatch, Olivia Munn,
and Kristen Wiig .
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson reunite for some new gags and quite a few of the old ones as well.
It has been 14 years since Zoolander ingratiated itself upon the masses and now we’re finally seeing the return of Derek, Hansel and a handful of other memorable characters you know and love (well, maybe you do). For a film centered in the world of fashion, where youthfulness and age are such a key factor, 14 years is a long time and could mean a death sentence for a regular model. Will that have any effect on the return of two of the world’s greatest male models?
Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) now finds himself in seclusion in a remote snow-covered cabin in what seems like the middle of the Arctic Alaska (it’s really Northern New Jersey) after suffering the tragic loss of his wife and losing custody of his son. Feeling beaten and alone, Derek is persuaded back into the world of modeling by an invite from current mogul Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) to attend a runway show in Rome.
At the airport Derek reunites with Hansel (Owen Wilson), the free-spirited male model who is briefly at odds with him, but then like the original, soon becomes his right hand man. The two are thrusted into a fish-out-of-water scenario where they partake in a modern runway show that involves them being ridiculed for being old and whipped by All (Benedict Cumberbatch), a beloved model who defies gender.
This is where they run into Valentina (Penélope Cruz), a detective working for the fashion police and the main plot points of the story start to unravel. I’ll save you from anything too spoiler-ish and just say it involves celebrities being off’d, a kidnapping, and Mugatu (Will Ferrell) may involved.
The key issue for any great comedy returning for a sequel is how it will set itself apart from the original. Is it going to lean on all the old material that once made it a great property or is it going to try its hand at something distinct? Movies like Anchorman 2 and Dumb and Dumber To are great examples of other films with long hiatuses making a return, only to replay all the old hits, like some reunited classic rock band from an era bygone.
Zoolander 2 does stumble into those pitfalls, but also manages to add enough new blood into the mix, so it wasn’t that offensive or forgettable. Think of any of your favorite moments from Zoolander: Mugatu’s hot latte and ever-present dog, the mocha frappuccino escapade, the orgy, relax, blue steel…. all of that and much more is reimagined and recycled in this second installment, but they do bring in fresh jokes as well. Some of the biggest laughs come from selfies, Valentina’s impressive swimming abilities, and Italian rooftops which help introduce us to some questionable celebrity cameos. Also like part one, the humor is completely absurd and ridiculous, plus they managed to recapture the spirit of the characters which I was happy about.
Even though a lot of the cast are much older now, they really didn’t seem to miss a beat and I think Zoolander 2‘s biggest strength is that it looks and feels like a Zoolander movie, but that’s also why it doesn’t beat out its predecessor. It’s too much like 2001 all over again, with a real lack of authentic ideas to make it stand on its own. It’s kind of like the leftovers from that amazing meal you had last night at Jean-Georges… no wait, they are too fancy to take home leftovers. Ok. It’s kind of like the leftovers from that amazing meal you had last night at Red Lobster, sure it’s eatable, but it was better the night before.