This weekend Paramount Pictures unleashes, on a worldwide audience, Zoolander 2. The film is directed by/stars Ben Stiller and proves that no amount of nostalgia can save an awful movie. Zoolander 2 languishes from start to finish mired in poor performances, dated jokes, and tepid writing.
Throughout the film Derek Zoolander asks “Who am I … What am I?” If ever a quote captured the essence of a movie it’s this one. We all are well aware of Zoolander from his original 2001 film. When the film came out, mere weeks after 9/11 when the world was in a weird place with comedy, it had a mediocre box office and lukewarm reception. But some audiences loved it, and it developed a cult following over the last decade and a half. But, probably not enough to merit a long gap sequel.
Like the first Zoolander, the long-awaited sequel is a menagerie of random jokes, fashion satire, and endless celebrity cameos that begin with the sight of The Biebs dying in a glorious array of bullets. Bieber is the latest in a string of pop stars murdered, all while sporting Zoolander’s famous Blue Steel pout. Bieber’s death is the catalyst that pulls Derek out of retirement and into yet another global fashion conspiracy. Sound familiar?
Owen Wilson returns to play Hansel, now a member of a new age cult that believes in “Free Love.” Hansel practice what he preaches, and it’s that practice that’s resulted in him being the soon to be a father to 11 kids. The pressure of that leads him to leave his cult and cross paths with Zoolander in Rome. It makes even less sense when you watch it unfold.
Derek and Hansel find themselves in Rome ready to hit the runway for Don Atari’s fashion show. Thinking they are the highlight of the trash-hipster show, Derek and Hansel take center-stage only to realize that they are nothing more than a punchline. Now it may seem to most that the plot line to Zoolander 2 is terribly familiar. Familiarity would be an understatement. It’s easy to assume that when you have four writers developing the script, some originality would spring up. Nah. The script by Stiller, Justin Theroux, Nicholas Stoller, and John Hamburg is full of nothing but rehashed punchlines from 2001, which had a decidedly different take on comedy than 2016. It’s not hard to imagine:
” Hey .. guys remember that bit we did in 2001? It killed, we should do it again!”
If you are going to go to all the trouble of developing a sequel, how about having an original idea. Maybe they thought they could wing it?
Speaking of jokes, the construction of the punchlines/funny moments were so clunky that it detracted from the res of the movie. Zoolander 2 is chock full of moments that end in awkward silence, not laughter. When the funniest moment of the movie involves none of the principle characters, but a cameo involving Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, your film is a tragedy, not a comedy.
The performances in Zoolander 2, are lifeless. Stiller and Wilson show all the comedic prowess of two actors ready to get this thing over with, and Penelope Cruz (Valentina) just seems to be in the movie for eye candy. Will Ferrell returns in his role as Zoolander’s chief nemesis, Mugatu. Ferrell is a scant highlight in this film because at least he delivers some energy during this regurgitated nonsense. If the performances had more energy behind them, Zoolander 2 would have been easier to take. In the end, this film is just too riddled with issues. The real lesson to take from Zoolander 2 is not every sequel is necessary.