Movie Review: Zoolander 2

Zoolander is the very definition of the sequel that didn’t need to be made, but here it is with recycled gags, scattershot plot, and secondhand embarrassment inducing cameos.

Derek Zoolander disappears from the modelling industry after losing his wife to a tragedy. Not long after, he also loses custody of his son after being deemed unfit as a single parent. Determined to get Derek Jr. back, the former supermodel teams up with former rival turned best friend Hansel, but only to get entangled in a murder mystery.

Zoolander was released just in time after 9/11, when people needed a distraction from a tragedy that was too surreal to be true because it looked like an action sequence from a Micheal Bay movie. Stiller makes the same joke twice and ends up spawning a sequel that didn’t need to be made.

Zoolander 2 still benefits from the chemistry of its cast. Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell all came back for this deliberately dumb movie and did their best. As a matter of fact Mugatu injected some life into the increasingly nonsensical – but not in an amusing way – plot that could make two more movies. Kristen Wiig is almost unrecognizable and fits right in. The rest of the cast, including the cameos, were committed to the silliness of this whole thing. Keifer Sutherland lends sincerity to his character as one of Hansel’s sex partner even though the role is beneath him. On the other hand, Kyle Mooney badly acts through an SNL character reject.

It doesn’t matter though because no amount of star wattage can salvage this movie. Zoolander 2 is a rehash of the original packed into an overstuffed plot padded with celebrity cameos.

Again, the main joke revolves around its two dumb models. Now that the novelty has worn off Derek Zoolander’s stupidity and Hansel’s orgy obsession quickly become tired running gags.  The sequel makes obligatory callbacks from the original (the assistant with the latte! the evil DJ! the blade stopping Blue Steel!)  but they just highlight the fact that it runs on regurgitated material.

There’s also a bunch of celebrities who make an appearance along the way and think they’re in on the joke, like Justin Beiber who lets himself get shot multiple times as a shout out to the haters who enjoyed his first onscreen death. The original made the best out of its cameos (RIP David Bowie) but here it’s random and obviously forced. Sadly, even Neil Degrasse Tyson’s cameo is cringeworthy.

Again, the sequel tries to mock the fashion industry but ends up as the movie equivalent of an old man complaining about new stuff. Instead of delivering a funny or biting satire it picks on stereotypes of modern culture – the hipster douchebro who ironically likes everything he really hates, the millennial social media expert and the cartoonish androgynous model that comes off as a tasteless tranny joke. All it could really do is tease fashion people – Mugatu shouts at a group of real life influential fashion people including Ana Wintour and the Two Wangs.

The movie ties all its loose ends in a silly climax that you could have predicted after 10-20 minutes of watching it, leading into a neatly wrapped up ending.

If you’re still amused by the idiocy of Derek Zoolander and easily entertained by cameos then this sequel is an adequate distraction. That’s enough to take your mind off from the rest of the movie which is an aimless mess that it makes you wonder what it wants to achieve. The original worked because it made fun of two people who ridiculously became successful in the fashion industry. Apart from repackaging old jokes, the sequel doesn’t commit to its intentions.

Money talks of course. The original wasn’t exactly a flop. It still made bank through DVD and television airings. Plus, nostalgia-tinged properties have a marketing advantage in social media where anything can turn into a viral meme. However social media attention doesn’t automatically translate into ticket purchases. More importantly even though Zoolander became a cult hit no one misses it.

My Rating: 2/10

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