Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) are back with a vengeance as fashionistas the likes of which the world hasn’t seen. When we last set eyes upon these male models, they were enjoying the wonders of the “Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.” As for fashion mogul Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell), he was behind bars. An unforeseen catastrophe strikes the Center, leaving Derek’s wife dead and forcing him and Hansel into seclusion.
Fifteen age-defying years later we find a still shamed duo leading isolated, separate lives, cut off from the rest of the world. When each receives a special invitation to star in a major fashion event in Rome, they are unable to resist the allure of returning to their former glory days. But upon arrival, Derek and Hansel meet the bizarre and eccentric designers that are behind the new fashion empire. The pair quickly realise the world they once knew has changed drastically. While they struggle to find relevance in this strange new paradigm, they are recruited by intelligence operative Valentina (Penélope Cruz) to help curtail a deadly plot. Along the way, Derek aims to reconnect with a son he doesn’t know, who is hardly the svelte dipstick that Derek is.
Sprung from the minds of comedy collaborators Drake Sather and Ben Stiller, the initial concept for Zoolander originated as a sketch for the 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards. The idea was a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a fashion shoot and the larger-than-life characters found in that world. Released in September 2001, Zoolander (the movie) underwhelmed at the box-office, but the film found legions of new fans with the release of the DVD and gradually grew to attain cult status.
My instant reaction to Zoolander 2 is that I felt my brain cells had been eroded. It is fast-paced, loud and colourful with some gaudy and outrageous fashion (and, I might add, some rather fetching numbers too) and death defying stunts, but oh so stupid and facile. Plumbing the depths of inane seems to know no bounds and it moves into mega-negative territory for the movie’s climax. Of course, that is the whole point because this is deliberately orchestrated dumb ass entertainment with a capital “D”.
It makes not a jot of difference if you have seen the original because it is not as if you have to have a PhD in linguistics to pick up the storyline. An unrecognisable Kristin Wiig, with make-up positively troweled on, all but steals the show. I defy you to pick her out.
There are some beaut cameos from a whole lot of famous people that mixes things up and helps maintain interest. It becomes a fun guessing game to try to figure out who will next make an appearance and suggests if you are well known and haven’t been asked, you are missing out.
But overall there weren’t as many laughs from the full theatre audience I saw it with as I might have expected. Nevertheless, Ben Stiller has given airheads exactly what they were pining for. Derek’s pout and “steel blue” gaze are back, but I am not convinced the world is better for seeing it. Then again, if you are after wanton silliness, the invitation is there to revel in it.
Rated M, Zoolander 2, which Ben Stiller directs and co-writes (as he did with the original), scores a 5 out of 10.
Director: Ben Stiller
Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, Christine Taylor
Release Date: 11 February 2016
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television