Ben Stiller’s 2001 film Zoolander has become a cult comedy, and for good reason. It’s silly, it doesn’t take itself seriously, and it cleverly pokes fun at both fashion and celebrity culture. It felt fresh in 2001 and a recent re-watch affirmed that it’s still a great film. How is it then that Zoolander 2 is so awful? Review after the jump.
Many years on from the events in Zoolander, and Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is living as a hermit[crab] in a remote cabin, while Hansel (Owen Wilson) is living with his orgy in a desert hideaway. A job offer lures them both out of hiding, with Derek hoping that being employed will show he is responsible, and help him regain the custody of his son which he lost some years before. The end of their self-imposed exile is timely for the Agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz), who needs their help in tracking down the person behind the recent spate of pop star deaths. The stars have all died with one of Derek’s signature looks on their faces.
This film is a massive disappointment. Where Zoolander was fresh and funny, this is stale. Stiller and his writing team have clearly decided that the best jokes from the first film again + more celebrity cameos + more sexual “humour” = awesome sequel. Well, they were wrong. Cameos are great when they’re used sparingly, but when a film relies on them so heavily, it’s tiresome and repetitive. The orgy scene is a perfect example – it’s a reused joke, and features about 10 celebrity cameos. The joke isn’t that Hansel is a sexual being or that characters are discovering something about themselves, it’s that there is a bunch of celebrities having weird sex together.
Penelope Cruz’s character is also an issue. When she’s working at agency’s base she has glasses on because glasses = smart, but outside of the base she uses her breasts as flotation devises. Her character seems to have been created just so that Stiller could have a beautiful woman around to make sexual jokes about. Stiller is better than this sort of lazy, out-dated writing. Talking about lazy, the product placement of Netflix and Uber in this film is completely ridiculous. Fashion labels and related luxury brands blend into the story, but these two stick out like sore thumbs. Awful.
The saving grace of the film is Kristen Wiig’s wonderful Alexanya Atoz, a clear take on designer Donatella Versace. Wiig is almost unrecognisable thanks to a face that looks like it has had ten too many plastic surgeries. Wiig’s incredible annunciation ensures that everything she says is amusing; the difficulty other characters have understanding her are the film’s funniest moments by far. Wiig is a true comedic talent. Stiller and Owen also have their moments, and the two as these characters have great comedic chemistry. It’s a real shame the material they had to work with wasn’t as good this time around.
Zoolander 2 is to Zoolander, what Anchorman 2 is to Anchorman. A turgid, cameo-packed imitation of the far superior comedy that preceded it.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Ben Stiller
Writer(s): Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Nicholas Stoller, John Hamberg
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penélope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig
Runtime: 102 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: February 11, 2016