Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking? To everyone involved with Zoolander 2, the answer has got to be an unmistakable no.
Before we start, let’s get one thing straight; we need to stop kidding ourselves that the original Zoolander was some kind of comedy classic. Sure, it’s entertaining enough, and has an impressive string of quotes that fans love to repeat over and over – but deep down we all know that the charming innocence of the lead character is disguising a thin plot and dumb premise.
However, thanks to the power of hindsight, I can now appreciate the 2001 cult classic a little more; in comparison to the sequel, the original feels like Shakespeare and Dickens rolled into one gorgeous disaster heap.
A quick prologue brings us up to speed on the senseless fashionista that is Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), and we learn that Derek has spent the better part of 15 years living as a hermit away from the public eye. Disgraced and alone, Derek is given the opportunity to reconnect with his teenage son (Cyrus Arnold) and fellow model Hansel (Owen Wilson) when an invitation to an exclusive fashion event in Rome arrives on the doorstep of his remote log cabin. Plunged into a murderous conspiracy involving a series of celebrity deaths, Derek and Hansel are recruited by sultry Interpol agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz) to uncover the culprit.
This might sound like a recipe for suave spy-movie success, but don’t be fooled; Zoolander 2 is too preoccupied with parading around a buttload of desperate celebrity cameos to be concerned with something as pointless as a plot. Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Sting and Susan Sarandon (amongst many others) all get their fifteen seconds of fame – but simply populating a film with an endless stream of famous faces isn’t a suitable substitute for an entertaining and coherent narrative.
The jokes are forced, unfunny and repetitive. Adding the word ‘hashtag’ before a line of dialogue doesn’t constitute a joke; squeezing Ariana Grande into a gimp suit isn’t a punchline; and resolving a key character arc with a gag about miscarriage is just plain distasteful. References to the original are awkwardly shoehorned in to entertain fans, but they come across as desperate and lacking in originality. The film even finds time to squeeze in a cameo from Susan Boyle. Seriously? SuBo? How can a movie that opened a mere few days ago already feel so hideously dated? 2009 called, they want their reality TV star back.
Stiller (who also directs) is on autopilot as the dim-witted title character, whilst Wilson grapples with an absurd subplot concerning two competing orgies that both want to him to fuck them. All told, he could be cut out of the film entirely and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference.
The only highlight is the return of Will Ferrell as megalomaniac fashion designer Mugatu; kept on ice until well into the nonsensical third act, Ferrell is severely underused and by that point you’ll have ceased to care anyway.
As vapid and brainless as its main character, Zoolander 2 is a lazy string of pop culture references and cameo appearances masquerading as a movie. It’s an unruly mess that is completely devoid of the lovable charm and quirkiness of the original film that should be avoided at all costs.
Zoolander 2 is available in Australian cinemas from February 11th
Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures