It has been 15 years since Ben Stiller’s Zoolander (2001). It doesn’t come as a surprise then that in between the first and second Zoolander films, a lot of things have happened in the story of the famous male supermodel who turned into a hero by virtue of his dashing looks and blunt stupidity.
Derek (Ben Stiller) got married and became a dad. His ridiculously named and purposed school got constructed but quickly collapsed, killing his wife and scarring the immaculate face of his best bud Hansel (Owen Wilson). His son is eventually taken away from him, forcing him to live a life of a recluse somewhere in snowy New Jersey.
The sequel picks up several years later. Derek and Owen are now things of the past, artifacts of those glorious years when fashion was fun and ostentatious.
In Rome, pop stars are being mysteriously murdered, with their dying faces bearing a look that Derek invented back when he was still in demand. The two models are plucked out of retirement to uncover a dastardly plot by a familiar villain.
Of course, other things happened elsewhere in between the two Zoolander films.
Supermodel Tyra Banks launched America’s Next Model, which throughout its 22 cycles that spanned more than 12 years, exposed the often hilarious truth about the modeling industry. Project Runway, another reality show that deals with what is rarely discussed about the fashion industry, showcases self-obsessed upstarts whose feuds with each other often eclipse their creative output.
Other shows followed suit, revealing that there is real entertainment to be mined out of what is presented to be the vacuous world of models and runways. If there is anything that Stiller should have learned while observing the developments that are happening while he is conceptualizing the sequel for Zoolander, it is that fact is often stranger and more comedic than fiction.
Zoolander 2 howeverproves that Stiller is still in the mood for farce and slapstick. He repeats a lot of the first film’s jokes and wit, only this time, he further commits to exaggeration, recruiting real pop stars and fashion designers to pull off needless cameos to lend the film a fake air of irreverence and haughtiness. What results is just a hodgepodge of last season’s comedy.
In the midst of the smizing divas of Tyra Banks and the cutthroat competitors of Heidi Klum, the shenanigans created by Stiller for Zoolander 2 feel like they belong to a gag show rather than a big-budgeted production.
Sure, there are a few nifty ideas here and there. Hansel’s love affair with a tightly knit orgy is an offbeat take on this generation’s all-encompassing perception of love. Don Atari (Kyle Mooney), whose very name reflects the common millennial’s airheaded obsession with nostalgia, is a clever creation, and his uproarious confrontation with Michael Kors-sound-a-like Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) feels delightfully contemptuous of all the preposterous trends that have resulted out of the hipster phenomenon.
Unfortunately, the film’s cleverer conceits are drowned by the more pedestrian antics that Stiller indulges too much in. Zoolander 2 feels ambitionless and safe, relying predominantly on lowbrow humor, the type that would have prepubescent boys giggling because they think anything related to sex is funny. That is why the film is littered with infantile innuendos, from untoward erections to Penelope Cruz using her breasts as extraordinarily efficient floatation devices.
Zoolander 2 is amusing at most, gratingly repetitive at worst.
Almost everything it offers has been done in the first film, with a lot more ingenuity and genuine cheekiness. Everything is just louder, flashier, and more crowded this time. A joke performed twice doesn’t have the same effect, not unless it is delivered with some semblance of ingenuity.
Sadly, Stiller seems to have run out of ingenuity. Like the hipsters he’s making fun of, he’s running on sham nostalgia. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ ‘Tirad Pass.’ Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema. Profile photo by Fatcat Studios
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