Cinematic Releases: Zoolander 2

Andrew reviews the latest in Derek Zoolander's misadventures

Would you look at those?
For the record, Ben Stiller is one of the most talented entertainers of our time.  Whether it's directing comedy classics like Reality Bites, The Cable Guy and Tropic Thunder, leading comedies like There's Something About Mary, Meet the Parents and The Heartbreak Kid or even occasional dramatic turns like Noah Baumbach's Greenberg or Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums, Stiller is that rare comedian whose role behind the camera is as dedicated and important as his time spent in front of it.  Even if the film he inhabits is on the weaker side like Night at the Museum or Mystery Men, chances are he'll still manage to shine in the role.  And then there's deliberately idiotic stuff like Dodgeball and Zoolander where Stiller is so ridiculously over the top that the only response one has to how deep into the barrel he reaches is to laugh.  The concept of an lame brained male model, lampooning the stereotypes of the scene with absurd caricatures, is a welcome and still surprisingly hilarious one even as the image of Stiller dressed in a black leather suit wearing the silliest face he can make for the poster feels like a late kid cousin to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.  Fifteen years later, now here is Zoolander 2, the long awaited sequel no one asked for which manages to be funny but ultimately comes up short as a crossbreed of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.  In other words, if you figured Zoolander 2 would be more of the same, you were correct in your predictions.

That's not to say it isn't without it's moments of random comedy punctuated by endless celebrity cameos (Sting, Justin Bieber, Benedict Cumberbatch, Katy Perry and even Neil deGrasse Tyson show up), juvenile toilet humor and Ben Stiller competing against Will Ferrell in making the most absurd faces possible.  Despite being penned by four writers, unlike the first Zoolander which was admittedly a sketch comedy about a bumbling idiot who winds up saving the world, Zoolander 2 bears the distinction of being made up on the spot with the funniest gags left in the movie while the rest will likely feature on the gag reel in the eventual blu-ray edition.  Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are clearly having great fun although Jerry Stiller and Milla Jovovich are reduced to brief cameos and while parodying the stereotypes of the fashion world as of current, Zoolander 2 is mostly a send-up of the Mission Impossible movies replete with a standard Michael Bay action oriented score and rapid fire chase sequences.  Stiller clearly has the chops to do the Weird-Al Yankovic equivalent of parodying action movie cliches, but the problem is Zoolander 2 feels like a half-hearted string of sight gags that don't really amount to much other than cheap and ultimately disposable.  For some reason, celebrity cameos automatically amount to comic timing in the universe of Ben Stiller and Will Farrell comedies and while it will elicit a chuckle of appreciation, it also has the potential to irritate with it's laziness.

I'm pooping right now. 
Overall Zoolander 2 will give you exactly what you expect which isn't a complete waste of time but sadly falls far short of it's predecessor.  I hate to use the word 'rehash' but that's mostly where critics are coming down hard on the film.  For what it's worth, Zoolander was an inspired comedy and bore it's own distinctive brand of lunacy.  Here, it's mostly in hindsight a cliffnotes edition of the first movie with less emphasis on lampooning the fashion industry and more on the over-the-top action movie which, when you think about it, Stiller already achieved beautifully with Tropic Thunder.  He already took down the Michael Bay inspired action flick, and now he wants to do it again with Zoolander?  Ultimately where Zoolander as it stands was a comedy with a head on it's shoulders, Zoolander 2 finds it's chief creator going back to the well in search of whatever recycled jokes can still maybe make people laugh.  With this I grudgingly recommend this obvious check-your-brain-at-the-door sketch comedy which was funny and is worth seeing but don't go in with high expectations because they will be let down.  My friendly recommendation is to stick with the first one which is still an amusing romp that doesn't rely on regurgitating its own highlights for two hours.

Like this review? Please share. 
Pinterest Google+ StumbleUpon Twitter Reddit Facebook


- Andrew Kotwicki