What it’s about
In fashion, one day you’re in, the next day you’re out. “Zoolander 2” is so far out that it will never be back in style, a disgraceful misfire that falls flat on a toxic runway.
Fifteen years after the first spoof of high fashion and vapid celebrities, this sequel is randomly stitched together and the action-adventure plot is irrelevant.
The original introduced us to dim-bulb male model rivals Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson). This time around, they are plucked from retirement to help Interpol’s global fashion agent (Penelope Cruz) find out who is killing music stars. They all leave selfies posing with a Zoolander signature expression, including the most recent, Justin Bieber.
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The investigation uncovers some mumbo-jumbo about protecting “The Chosen One,” and somehow, Derek’s nemesis Mugatu (Will Ferrell) is involved, behind bars in a fashion prison. While in Rome, they run into a ridiculously exaggerated Donatella Versace-type couturier Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) and a hipster fashion designer Don Atari (Kyle Mooney).
A bewildering waste of time, money and talent, this comedy’s laughs are woefully few and far between. The jokes are forced and politically incorrect, mocking chubby kids (Derek’s offspring is overweight — oh the horror!) and a transgender model (All, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in one scene).
Zoolander began as a character to satirize the industry at the VH-1 Fashion Awards. The 2001 movie sprang out of Stiller’s red-hot popularity after “Meet the Parents” and “There’s Something About Mary,” and became a huge hit on DVD. Why they took this long to revive it, is mystifying.
Stiller and Wilson are too old to be doing this arrested development schtick. Their characters’ epic stupidity is no longer funny and Hansel’s sexual escapades are tiresome — an orgy follows him around.
Ferrell fares the best as the power-mad and condescending mastermind Mugatu.
The film’s only redeeming quality is the non-stop parade of celebrity cameos who appear either as themselves or bit characters. Some manage to capitalize on their name, while others, like Sting and Kiefer Sutherland, actually have roles.
Nothing makes a whole lot of sense, so there is little to care about, and the ending can’t come soon enough.
What doesn’t work
Stiller did himself no favors by wearing three hats — director, co-writer, and actor. He wrote the flimsy script along with three others — Justin Theroux (“Tropic Thunder”), Nicholas Stoller (“The Muppets”) and John Hamburg (“Meet the Parents”), making me mad and sad.
Whatever they threw together, hoping to land a laugh, squanders the goodwill of the audience, desperately wanting to chuckle more and groan less. These guys got a pass because people have enjoyed their antics onscreen. But they don’t deliver.
What once was a vehicle to skewer shallowness, superficiality and vanity has turned into a pathetic hot mess.
Half-hearted and lazy doesn’t cut it. “Zoolander 2” is the biggest fashion crime since leisure suits and Sansabelt slacks.
- Director: Ben Stiller
- Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig
- Rated: PG-13 (crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language)
- Length: 1:42