Zoolander 2 Review

A STUPID FUNNY

DEREK ZOOLANDER SEQUEL


 

Back in 2001, the comedy Zoolander debuted, featuring the clueless model character Derek Zoolander as he struggles in his fashion modeling career as well as stopping himself from being brainwashed in killing the Prime Minister Malaysia. Whether you liked it or not, the movie was a success, reaching cult classic status in the comedy genre and offering plenty of funny one-liners that viewers repeated often, well after the movie ended. Now, after 15 years since the first film (and that’s a long time), Derek Zoolander is back and ready to hit the fashion runaway again in the comedy sequel Zoolander 2. Are moviegoers ready for the return of Derek Zoolander or is he (and his movie) a relic of cult comedy movie past?

THE STORY


After the recent death of Justin Bieber (Hooray!), Fashion Interpol is stumbled in figuring out who’s behind the recent killings of pretty celebrities, with agent Valentina Valencia (Penelope Cruz) going to extreme measure to capture the culprit, following the clues to the New Jersey doorstep of the once-famous now turned recluse-hermit (or hermit crab as he calls himself) Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller).Reunited with former rival / friend Hansel (Owen Wilson), who’s dealing with possible parental responsibilities with his ongoing orgy group (including Kiefer Sutherland), Derek struggles with his own past, still mourning the death of his wife Matlida (Christine Taylor) and his legal separation from his overweight son, Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold). Arriving in Rome, with an invitation from fashion guru Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig), Derek and Hansel participate in a big show, feeling the pressure of changing fashion industry. As the duo tries to find their special “X” factor runaway mojo, violence is threatened from Mugatu (Will Ferrell), Zoolander’s old enemy, who breaks out of his “fashion” prison to fulfil an ancient prophecy of Adam, Eve, and Steve.

THE GOOD / THE BAD


Of course, I remember seeing the first Zoolander movie. I thought it was hilarious with Ben Stiller, acting as the dimwitted model Derek Zoolander with all of his shenanigans throughout the movie. It was fun to watch (in a sort of stupid way) with plenty of silly catchphrases that I would joked around with my friends and family members. I remember hearing that they were going to make another Zoolander movie, buts it’s been so long since the first one that I many would see this movie as an “outdated” sequel. After watching the movie, I found that Zoolander 2 tries top its predecessor (in scope and zaniness) and comedic gags, but comes up short as just a “okay” sequel.

Interestingly, actor Ben Stiller returns to the director chair to direct this sequel. Stiller, who played the iconic idiotic protagonist from the first Zoolander, knows Derek Zoolander better than anyone and shoots this intended sequel with that frame of mind, channeling all the absurd humor from original movie. Indeed, Zoolander 2 picks up the reigns from predecessor, offering the same satirized parody of the fashion world and its industry models and clothing. Adding to that, the movie also takes the premise of the international action spy genre, spoofing several of its nuances (setup, films style, etc.) from the film category, which culminates in its own workable kooky storyline. Personally, from I what I picked up, Zoolander 2 is much more polished (as a film) than its predecessor via its style, editing, and overall “broader” in scope.

However, while its scale Is bigger, Zoolander 2 can’t overpass the original Zoolander. Perhaps because it’s been so long since the first film is why the movie fails ignite. Just like their Derek and Hansel struggle with their place in the contemporary world of fashion in the movie, so does this sequel, trying to find its proper footing with its 2016 audiences.  Stiller, along with co-writers John Hamburg, Justin Theroux, and Nicholas Stoller, sticks to their “old guns” from the first movie, calling back the jokes and gags from that particular feature. Thus, a lot of running gags and comedic efforts are somewhat “outdated” and fall somewhat short. Rather than freshen up this comedy sequel with new material and innovative jokes, Zoolander 2 feels stall in its comedy department, even with its modern day references. There’s definitely some funny parts in the movie, just not as “creative” as some viewers would want. This also extends to the story’s narrative, which is overtly familiar, and plays out with similar fashion to other stories in other comedy spoofs. However, I have to admit that Zoolander is a slightly better than other comedy sequels of late (Ride Along 2, Dumb and Dumber To, etc.)

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, the two main leads (both in characters and actors) from the first film, return to reprise their roles as Derek Zoolander and Hansel MacDonald. Both slide back into their entertaining nitwit character personas with great ease (as if 15 years haven’t gone by) in this sequel. However, much like I said about this movie above, the duo doesn’t breathe “new life” into their characters, but rather reprises their respective monikers and goofy antics from the first Zoolander; a sort of “character” retread.

The same goes for the film’s returning villain Mugatu, played by comedian actor Will Ferrell, who’s equally over-the-top and maniacal in this sequel than how he was in the first feature. Again, there’s really nothing particular new to the character, though Ferrell’s lively performance does bring the evil Mugatu to life. That said, it all depends on your how much like Ferrell’s comedy angst to fully enjoy his performance in this movie. Penelope Cruz, a newcomer to the franchise, gets less screen time in comparison to her costars, but gets the job done, playing the “straight face” role of Fashion Interpol agent Valentina Valencia, with plenty of absurd dialogue lines and a couple of ridiculous situations. Similarly, Kristen Wiig gives a goofy (but hilariously amusing) role as Alexanya Atoz, mocking and poking fun at the world of fashion experts, though her characters slowly fades into the background as the movie progresses.

Other notable supporting characters include Kyle Mooney as the obnoxious hipster fashion expert Don Atari and Cyrus Arnold as Zoolander’s overweight son, Derek Zoolander Jr. Besides those two, Zoolander 2 doesn’t offer much of a supporting cast. In its place, the movie showcases numerous cameo appearances from celebrities (fashion icons, actors, music stars). I’ll admit, some of the cameo in the movie are indeed funny, including Benedict Cumbertach’s All, a popular model whose gender is not considered to be part of “binary” constructs. However, most of their appearances are quick and their jokes aren’t as funny, beyond the idea them just “being” appearing in the movie such as Zoolander 2.

FINAL THOUGHTS


Derek Zoolander is back for another kooky slapstick adventure in Zoolander 2. This comedy sequel has its moments with plenty of comedic gags and numerous celebrity cameos as well as doing its own parody rifting on the spy action genre and world of fashion. However, the feature lacks the extra “oomph” it needs, with recycled ideas, stagnant characters, and little to none of innovation in its storytelling. To me, it was okay as a serviceable sequel, but just not don’t expect it to exceed the first one. In truth, Zoolander 2 wants to be “bigger” than the first film and aims for that lofty goal, but never reaches its. If you’re a fan of the first Zoolander, you like this sequel (with variant degrees of likeability) and, if you weren’t, there’s really nothing to change your mind with this movie. In short, if you want to get lost in a crazy cinematic world of fashion, spies, and idiotic male models, then Zoolander 2 is adequate detour to pass the time on a lazy afternoon

3.2 Out of 5 (Iffy Choice / Rent It)

 

Reviewed on February 16th, 2016

Zoolander 2  is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language

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