I was so hoping this sequel to my much loved goof-ball film from 2001 would be another stupid yet entertaining run of laughs, but this film tried being at least 3 times bigger and glosses over a very haphazard script.
Since the happy endings of not killing the Malaysian Prime Minister everything has gone tragically wrong for Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller). He and former so hot right now male model Hansel (Owen Wilson) get a call to appear in a new fashion show helmed by strange designer Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig), but it’s clear the coincidence of it being in Rome where Derek’s son lives is too great, leading the dumb duo and Interpol fashion agent Melanie Valentina (Penelope Cruz) to suspect something more sinister.
One of the biggest issues this movie has is in feeling too big for it’s own boots, the first film is memorable but it has that sort of cult feel in being buffoonish and stupid. Fifteen years have passed and finally a sequel came about but it’s not truly worth it and that hurts me to admit because it’s one of those rare comedies that I actually wanted another one of. Zoolander 2 goes all out in locations and sheen to appear like a Bond escapade of espionage for our brain-lacking hero to overcome. The first movie had appeal in mostly sticking to the comedy of male models where this puts that idea on the back foot and instead focuses on bigger set-ups and secret service like developments.
Four people battled the script, yes four screenwriters, which does speak volumes for what a flailing mess it can be a lot of the time. Too many cooks spoil the broth as they say and when it concerns writing a screenplay that definitely rings true. The script never glues onto one set idea and after a whirlwind of catch up news stories to bring us into the present day we’re left facing plots about orphaned sons, orgy lovers, relevance in the industry, a rival’s return and a huge fashion conspiracy about the chosen one. It’s like the film has it’s plots on a pendulum and let’s it swing wildly as we zone out.
That’s the key thing here, you never invest in the film or amusingly engage with this sequel because it never tries to be immersive. I know the first one is similar in being screwy and foolish but it’s also somehow clever and you find yourself in the world of Zoolander and his anguish to win over his brainwashing predicament. However here; crazy sub plots on top of trying too hard to be quotable or capture the magic of the 2001 outing makes it difficult to buy into. Also, the staggering amount of starry cameos that surface in this feature totally take you out of the film and make you sit back and count the number of celebrities cashing in their slot. It’s not just Bieber, but Ariana Grande, Susan Sarandon, Sting and others that give this movie a tone of trying harder to get guests than reliving the qualities that made the first film so good.
I did like a few parts of this release though, the opening with it’s headline exposition whams us in nicely with the music over the top helping make everything seem stupidly yet funnily dramatic. The idea of the chosen one story is so idiotic but done in a religious way that becomes amusing and for me, though I realise people dislike the typical Will Ferrell shtick, I began seeing more of the comedy as he and his flamboyantly villainous Mugatu re-entered. The plot’s darker spy/baddie narrative came into it’s own from this point but by then the film is nearly over.
Ben Stiller is as good as ever playing the intellectually stunted Zoolander, he looks like he hasn’t aged, his Blue Steel/Magnum looks are still on fleek and he pulls of the childish innocence of a full grown adult. Owen Wilson is also back in a way making you feel he’s born to play Hansel, who is just as vanity obsessed and sportingly fit if not more so. He becomes a bit lost in his own storyline which Wilson struggles with only because it adds nothing. Penelope Cruz is a newbie and does a good job as hot former swimsuit model turned to Interpol duties but there’s not much for her to do and the whole new romantic storyline that comes in feels pushed. Will Ferrell is great as the evil fashion mogul and with his pathetic little goatee and hairdo he lives on as one of the funniest creations for Zoolander to face. Kristen Wiig is absolutely unrecognisable and brilliantly hilarious as super tanned and surgically ruined Alexanya who quivers with her mouth and stares like an empty vessel. I’ll mention Benedict Cumberbatch because what with all the threats of boycotting and offensive nature to the transgender community, he is a tiny and boring cameo that serves as a mere throwaway gag that’s neither funny or distasteful, if anything it’s setting up the stupidity of Derek and Hansel.
This movie tries turning left but circles all the way around in a strained job to live out the fun of the first film. Apart from some quite humorous cameos and a lively last act, this film pulls a disappointing front wedgie and stumbles on the walk-off.