Zoolander 2, the follow-up to the fantastic cult classic, truly takes the ridicule of the first movie and stretches it out as much as possible, unfortunately creating some mixed results.
Firstly, in the spirit of optimism, let’s review what works in this movie. If you loved the characters of Derek, Hansel, and even Mugatu, you will be pleased to know that neither Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson nor Will Ferrell have forgotten how to play their characters (Stiller’s Blue Steele is as ridiculously good-looking as ever). This is probably the strongest point of the film, and it was especially satisfying to see the two main characters bounce off each other as friends for the entire movie, unlike the original. Ferrell’s character Mugatu also returns in this movie, even more deranged and psychopathic than previously seen, which leads to some hilarious moments, especially when in contrast with the naïve Zoolander.
Also important to remark is the way that this movie, like its predecessor, pokes fun at many aspects of the fashion and celebrity world. Yet it updates this – parodying the stereotypes of current fashion and hipster culture. This ridicule is not always funny, but the fact that they even chose to go in this direction deserves credit. Die hard Zoolander fans will also enjoy the throwbacks that this movie is filled with, which certainly makes for some fun reminiscing about these hilarious character’s tropes.
Unfortunately, Zoolander 2 doesn’t have much more going for it.
The plot of the movie is as ridiculous as you would expect- which isn’t a bad thing for a movie like Zoolander– yet the pacing does make the unreasonable plot a little hard to bear. It seems that the movie does find its footing in its second half, but at the expense of a somewhat uninteresting first half where no real plot is defined. Compare it to the first Zoolander where the very first scene finds Mugatu being told that he needs to find a simpleton to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia *cut to Derek Zoolander*, who is the perfect example. The viewer understands clearly where the movie is going, even if further details develop along the way. In Zoolander 2, not much is known about what the overarching plot is, except that something sinister is going on. Due to this, the movie doesn’t seem well defined in the first half, causing it to be less interesting.
All this could be dismissed if the movie was genuinely funny, but this is often not the case. The writing in this movie, specifically the jokes, pales in comparison to the first Zoolander. Much of the humour is either awkward or very repetitive. In all fairness, the first Zoolander did make use of repetitive clichés for its humour (such as Derek’s ignorance) but it was always in form of parody in regards to fashion, a very original idea at the time. This movie blatantly replicates much on the humour of Zoolander, but much less originally.
The cameos were fun to watch unfold. However, where they were hilarious in Zoolander, here they detract from the movie simply because there are too many. The movie is SATURATED with cameos, some of which are very funny, yet it is clear many of the actors just appeared fleetingly to say they were in the new Zoolander movie, and that’s it. Some add absolutely nothing to either the plot of the humor of this movie.
Finally, the obsession of this movie to “one-up” the original is clear, as it is far more ridiculous. This is not all negative, especially when it comes to the characters being sillier versions than their previous re-incarnations because it does add some humour. But the movie is also saturated with cringe worthy CGI, extravagant locations, and even more outlandish scenarios, which differs a lot from that small-scale feeling of the original.
Zoolander 2 has its enjoyable moments, and quite a few funny scenes. If you enjoyed the first Zoolander or simply want to be distracted for a couple of hours, I definitely recommend it. However, overall, the comedy hits home way less than it intends to, and is quite bland when compared to the originality of the first Zoolander.
While still enjoyable, Zoolander 2 proves that unlike Derek’s ‘multiple faces’, repetition doesn’t always impress.
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Images sourced from Zoolander 2, Red Hour Films, Scott Rudin Productions