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Movie Review - Zoolander (2001 - United States)

Updated on May 30, 2012

Comedy is so hard to do, in part because What Is Funny is so individual and fluid a constraint. What is funny to me may not be funny to you, and what is funny to me today may not be funny to me tomorrow. And then there's Zoolander , which is Ben Stiller turned completely loose, freed even of the slim bounds of rational storytelling that I feel drag down a lot of his more commercially successful films.

Owen Wilson & Ben Stiller in Zoolander

Watch this wonderful comedy right now:

Watch the trailer:

I love this movie, and I've never felt that it requires I "turn off my brain", as many reviews suggest. In fact, quite the opposite—one of the interesting points about Zoolander is that it builds as a comedy, it gets funnier as it goes along. A great many comedies do the opposite, and diminish during their running time (this is one reason comedy scripts are almost always ten or more pages shorter than screenplays for drama—the shorter length reflects our shorter attention span for comedy; a human can only laugh so much without getting just plain exhausted). I'm not sure how Stiller accomplishes this feat, but —having watched Zoolander several times now—I suspect it comes from the growing goodwill we feel toward his character, who at first appears utterly vane and brainless, but slowly grows in our estimation until we come to accept that he actually does have an itty-bitty brain (he remains completely vane, but we forgive him, since he is, we come to see, trapped in a world in love with appearance and frightened of substance).

David Bowie in his cameo appearance in Zoolander

Ben Stiller as clueless male model Zoolander

There is simply is no better broad comedy than Stiller unleashed, so I recommend this picture very highly, indeed.

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

Genre: Comedy

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

In Theaters: Sep 28, 2001

On DVD: Mar 12, 2002

Box Office: $44.7M

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Directed By: Ben Stiller

Written By: John Hamburg, Drake Sather


Ben Stiller - Derek Zoolander

Milla Jovovich - Katinka

Will Ferrell - Mugatu

Owen Wilson - Hansel

Jerry Stiller - Maury Ballstein

Christine Taylor - Matilda

Jon Voight - Larry Zoolander

David Duchovny - J. P. Prewitt


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    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Do you have a favorite zany comedy? If so, please use the Comment box to let me know......

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      It's a movie that might surprise a lot of people if they gave it a try. Thanks for the interesting comment!

    • alipuckett profile image

      alipuckett 5 years ago

      Zoolander would normally not be the type of movie I'd like, but I watched it on TV late one night, and it had me in stitches!

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA


    • tschaunerb profile image

      tschaunerb 5 years ago from Medicine Hat

      Oh Zoolander.....