Zoolander, released in 2001 was a comedy that became one of the defining comedies of the new millennium, an instant, quotable classic that satirized the fashion world. It was one of the early entries in what would later be known as the “frat pack” movies that featured Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Owen & Luke Wilson, Steve Carrell, and/or Jack Black. It featured an inordinate amount of celebrity cameos, including David Bowie, Fred Durst, Lil’ Kim, Billy Zane, and even Paris Hilton before she was famous for being Paris Hilton. Now, 15 years later, Ben Stiller has run it back, bringing us Zoolander No. 2.
The intro of the movie features Justin Bieber being gunned down in the streets of Rome by an unknown assailant outside the home of Sting. Someone is killing off famous people who are protecting a “chosen one” of some sort, and they all died with Derek Zoolander’s famous “Blue Steel” look on their faces, and Fashion Interpol, led by agent Melanie Valentina (Penelope Cruz), is looking into it and trying to find Derek. Turns out Derek has become a recluse in “Northern New Jersey” after a tragic accident involving The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. The accident cost him his wife Matilda and resulted in his son being taken away from him by child services. It also left Hansel (Owen Wilson) “horribly disfigured” and caused him to go into hiding as well. They are both coaxed out of hiding by the most famous fashion designer in the world, Alexyana Atoz (Kristen Wiig), who wants them for her fashion show in Rome. While there, Derek is given the chance to reconnect with his son, who is in an orphanage there, while Hansel is running away from responsibility after getting his entire orgy (which includes, among others, Kiefer Sutherland). And when things go sideways, Agent Valentina steps in to help, and they discover that Derek old nemesis Mugatu (Will Ferrell) may be involved, even though he is in fashion jail with M.C. Hammer and other fashion criminals.
The jokes are very steady here, but the jokes that I found myself actually laughing at are very infrequent. Frankly, I was shocked at how unfunny most of it was, and how hard it looked like everybody was trying to make it be funny. Hansel initially wears a mask to cover part of his disfigured face, and you know what the payoff is going to be to that. Wiig’s Alexyana Atoz has an exotic accent that adds extra vowels to just about every word she utters. It’s impressive that she is able to deliver those lines, but the joke of it wears of quickly. Most of the celebrity cameos don’t do much to add to it, and some of them, like the featured Neil deGrasse Tyson, fall pretty flat. And Cruz’s Interpol agent is a former swimsuit model who when needed can swim ridiculously fast, because apparently swimsuit models have swimming superpowers. They also pull the Alien3 move of making an opening that changes the way you see the ending of the previous movie. Smaller roles for Kyle Mooney and Benedict Cumberbatch fizzle spectacularly.
The worst offense of this movie though, aside from being a largely unfunny comedy, is that it is the worst kind of sequel. Like Dumb & Dumber To, it is basically a rehash of the first movie. Derek comes out of retirement and is lured by basically the same group of people (even Justin Theroux’s evil DJ pops back up), this time around Hansel has the existential crisis that has him shouting to the heavens, “Who am I?” Mugatu plans to kill somebody. And Derek and the lead female slowly fall for each other. I guess it’s different though, because there’s no brainwashing. And the “chosen one” plotline is a parody of The DaVinci Code, which came out as a movie ten years ago. Really, it’s all just really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking… I mean, lazy.
I found myself laughing at a few things, such as when Hansel is allowed to ask Sting, who has just imparted very important knowledge to them, a very important question, and he uses that question to ask Sting the question just about anybody that knows anything about Sting would ask Sting if they had only one question. And some of the father-son stuff between Derek and his now fat, teenage son are funny, as are some of the cameos and the Hansel story. But it’s just not enough. Zoolander 2 is a long-awaited sequel that was better left not being made if this was the best they could come up with. Mugatu’s fashion line he wanted Derek for in Zoolander was called Derelicte. This film is completely derelict.
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars