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Film Review: Zoolander

Updated on January 9, 2016

Background

In 2001, Ben Stiller released Zoolander as a satire on the fashion industry. Starring Stiller, Owen Wilson, Godfrey, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller, David Duchovny, Jon Voight, Vince Vaughn, Judah Friedlander, Nathan Lee Graham, Alexander Skarskard, Justin Theroux, Andy Dick, Andrew Wilson, Jennifer Coolidge, James Marsden, and Patton Oswalt, with cameos by Donald Trump, Christian Slater, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Natalie Portman, Lenny Kravitz, Gwen Stefani, Heidi Klum, Paris Hilton, David Bowie, and Winona Ryder, the film grossed $60.7 million at the box office. Censored in the countries of Malaysia and Singapore, a sequel is on track to a release in February 2015. It was not nominated for any awards.

Synopsis

While Derek Zoolander is ridiculously good-looking, he’s still not very bright and incredibly shallow. After suffering a personal and professional setback in losing the Male Model of the Year crown to his rival Hansel, he loses his friends and decides to retire. However, his manager sends him to a week-long day spa where he is programmed into a sleeper agent meant to assassinate the prime minister of Malaysia.

Review

An incredibly hilarious film, Zoolander presents an interesting spoof on those who work for and model in the fashion industry. There’s always been a stereotype that centers on models and their intelligence, namely that they’re not the brightest. But this film humorously turns that up and makes its male models, especially Zoolander and Hansel, into completely braindead idiots that are dumber than a bag of hammers for anything that doesn’t involve getting on a runway and giving a look. One example being how Zoolander thinks a model of a building is the real building. It’s even stated that they don’t need to think beyond those parameters because they’re always told what to do anyway. In fact, the models who are smart tend to not stick around the business for very long and end up being the only ones who live past the age of 30 due to an evil, shadowy, omniscient council that controls world leaders by having those they deem to have come in the way assassinated by male models, including Kennedy and Lincoln.

But on the other side, there’s the people who create the fashion trends for the models to show off, like Mugatu. They’re not dimwitted, but are actually pretty smart and are more aware than the models. It’s seen when Mugatu is presenting his “Derelicte” line, which is where his plan to have the prime minister assassinated is happening. But when it’s foiled, it’s shown that he’s pretty much the only character and person in the fashion world with any sanity as he yells that Zoolander is limited in what he can do and only has the same look. Mugatu even yells that it’s crazy that no one else can see it and that he’s ultimately better than Zoolander because he invented the piano key necktie. However, once Zoolander turns left and pulls out the Magnum look, even he is stunned by it, going so far as to calling it beautiful. Notably that also defies anything Mugato had even said about his style and repertoire being limited.

Throughout the film, there is quite a bit of outlandish humor that can only come from a combination of Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, and Owen Wilson. One moment that really stands out is when Prewett is explaining how and why the aforementioned council uses male models to carry out the assassinations, followed by Zoolander to ask the exact same question and Prewett to state that he just told him why. It’s doubly funny because Stiller forgot his line and just repeated his last line, prompting an ad-lib from Duchovny. Also funny are Zoolander’s roommates from the beginning, who are so incredibly idiotic that they not only think a gasoline fight is a good idea, but that it’s smart to light a cigarette at a gas station. There’s also a good and humorous reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey, seen when Zoolander and Hansel are trying to get the files out of the computer, only for them to slowly morph into human chimps with Hansel grabbing a paperweight that looks like a bone. It gets revisited too, with Hansel bringing the entire computer to provide evidence against Mugatu and then smashing it because the files were inside, only for him to question where they went.

5 stars for Zoolander

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

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    • Mark Sammut profile image

      Mark Sammut 20 months ago from Malta

      Awesome movie and great indepth review.