‘Zoolander 2’ Review: Relax, Don’t Do It

Posted in Screening Room by - February 13, 2016

As I sit with Zoolander playing in the background, contemplating my thoughts on the sequel anear two decades later, my initial mild distaste intensifies. Like Anchorman 2 before it, Zoolander 2 takes the best parts of the original film, filters them through lenses of current comedies, and doesn’t justify its existence. It’s as vapid as it’s two leads and features more celebrity cameos than The Muppets Movie but with none of the laughs. 

Zoolander 2 picks up fifteen years after the original and finds titular character, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) leaving the fashion world behind for anonymity due to tragedy. I won’t go much into the tragedy but needless to say it was one of the few times I laughed during the film. After beautiful pop stars start dying all over the world, Zoolander and Hansel are summoned to Rome to walk the runway again in Alexanya Atoz’s (Kristen Wiig) newest fashion show.

Whilst in Rome, the two braindead models are recruited by Melanie Valentina (Penelope Cruz) of Interpol’s fashion division to track down the killers. Along the way Mugatu (Will Ferrell) shows up and Zoolander tries to get his son back.  It’s as contrived and thin as it sounds and just as unfunny. 

The only mildly positive aspect of the film are that Stiller and Wilson are back in top form again as the dimwitted fashion models. They fully commit to the roles, and look impossibly ageless in the roles. While Zoolander isn’t as stupid as he was in the original, he still exhibits the stunning lack of intelligence and grasp of the English language that provided so many laughs in the original. He is also concerned about being a father to his unlikable son which takes up a large majority of the film. 

Meanwhile, Hansel is now more concerned with finding his father so that he can be a better father to his soon-to-be born dozen children. Neither of the characters grow or are more fleshed out in the film anymore than they were in the original which is a damn shame.  

The main issue at play however is that it simply isn’t funny. It relies too much on random celebrity cameos to attempt to garner laughs than actually humorous scenarios or dialogue. I personally have never found the late night show-style cameo (putting a celebrity in a random scenario to see if we can get some laughs) to be something that makes me laugh and unfortunately this film is full of them. 

Zoolander 2 has become like every other recent comedy sequel in that it shoehorns in an ungodly number of cameos just so that the celebrities involved can brag about being in the film. I don’t understand why John Malkovich, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Willie Nelson were in the film, and the film doesn’t seem to either. Not only are they unnecessary, but they also cheapen the cameos that do work.

It also doesn’t help the film that one of the main billed stars, Kristen Wiig, is relegated to a cameo in the film as opposed to the main villain. It’s a bait and switch that might have worked in a better scripted film, but it falls flat here. It falls flat namely because we’ve already seen the repartee between Zoolander and Mugatu so it’s not new or interesting. With Will Ferrell in the original, his character was great because he was wholly original but this time around, he’s just played out. I will credit them with bringing back Justin Theroux as, I kid you not, “Evil DJ”. That was one of the few chuckles I had during the film. 

On the note unnecessary comedy sequels, Zoolander 2 should never have happened in the same way that Anchorman 2 or Dumb and Dumber To shouldn’t have. I try not to be cynical about film but with these recent comedy sequels its hard not to be. Not only do they feel like blatant cash grabs to capitalize on the name recognition of the license, they rehash the story of the original while devaluing it as well. Knowing now the journey that Zoolander and crew have in the sequel makes me appreciate the original less. It was the same reaction I had with the aforementioned sequels. It’s hard to write comedy, and it’s clearly harder to recapture the lightning in the bottle of those films.

Zoolander 2 doesn’t do a whole lot right, frankly, it only does one or two things right. It’s a sequel that came way too late to be relevant and does too little to be funny. Ben Stiller should have left the Zoolander character alone and allow the original to stand on its own as a quirky satire of the fashion industry. Hopefully its the last comedic sequel that we get to 2000s comedy, but I wouldn’t put it past them to bring us Talladega Nights 2: Ricky Bobby Rides Again

Final Say: Skip It


Editor’s Note: I’d like to thank Paramount Pictures for sending us a cease and desist email back when the trailer for Zoolander 2 leaked, clearly it helped with the quality of the end film. 

This post was written by
Chris Stachiw is the Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Kulturecast. He's a native Californian with a penchant for sarcasm and a taste for the cinematic bizarre. You'll often find him wandering the wasteland of Nebraska searching for the meaning of life and possibly another rare Pokemon.
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