Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.
Release Date: February 12th, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Ben Stiller Actors: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Billy Zane, Kiefer Sutherland, Justin Theroux, Milla Jovovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Fred Armisen, Sting
fter his wife dies in a tragic building collapse and his son is taken away by Social Services, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) changes his name to Eric Toolander and exiles himself to northern New Jersey. Years pass before the former male model decides to make his big comeback – after he’s propositioned by fashion icon Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) to participate in a Don Atari (Kyle Mooney) runway show. Determined to regain his prominence, Zoolander heads to Rome where he reconnects with fellow disgraced model Hansel McDonald (Owen Wilson) and his son Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold). But it’s not long before the dimwitted duo is contacted by Interpol Fashion Division agent Valentina Valencia (Penelope Cruz) to become embroiled in a nefarious plot orchestrated by a devious mastermind from their past.
It starts with a chase sequence full of parkour, machineguns, motorcycles, and stunts, managing to rather effectively spoof action scenarios despite the use of Justin Bieber in the lead. But this goofiness, combined with the recognizable cameo, never gets much better. The film still thrives on the idiocy of Zoolander and Hansel, but the guest appearances and satire are woefully unimpressive. Physical comedy and fat jokes compose the majority of the humor, while general weirdness supplements the wafer-thin plot. Instead of knowledgeably mocking fashionistas, “Zoolander 2” is content with grotesquely-designed caricatures and nearly unintelligible personas, hoping to coax laughs from strangeness instead of farce.
“She’s hot. I trust her,” confirms Hansel about Valentina. Any hint of intelligent sarcasm has vanished in favor of non sequiturs, references to the previous movie, and slapstick. The story has also devolved into a blend of “The Da Vinci Code” or “Mission: Impossible” with “Austin Powers” – but not the funnier entries into that series. It’s more like the utterly unwatchable “Austin Powers in Goldmember.” It’s the kind of production in which bad special effects are entirely acceptable and the cast seems like they’re participating just for the sake of merrily reuniting backstage. But wasted opportunities abound, particularly with Mugatu (Will Ferrell), who isn’t given a chance to be humorous; he’s mostly just disquieting.
Although the first film was a flimsy yet amusing send-up of the fashion industry (its cult following would suggest a layer of cleverness or catchiness beneath all the nonsense), this long-delayed sequel has utterly lost its way. Failing to serve as a compatible extension of the prior picture’s messages on vapid male models and fashion players going to immoderate extremes for their trade, or even as a mere excuse to reuse the somewhat iconic skits (such as a walk-off or the gas station play-fight), “Zoolander 2” seems very much like brainstormed ideas slapped together without aim or purpose. Director Ben Stiller likely couldn’t bring himself to can the entire project, but the result is a mishmash of poorly developed, incongruous ideas that are far from what was needed for a feature-length production. Though few audiences will have high expectations for this grossly belated follow-up, it’s depressingly pitiable in its inability to muster even the minute appeal possessed by the 2001 original. It’s exhaustingly, mind-bogglingly stupid.
– The Massie Twins