Zoolander No. 2 - The Riles' Review
The first Zoolander film was a monumental achievement for Ben Stiller and company. It was a sharp satirical commentary on the fashion industry. For the less savvy moviegoers, it was still littered with dry and cheeky humour throughout. It was a funny movie on multiple levels, and had an appeal to multiple audiences because of it. It was a clever and noteworthy precursor to the comedy eclipse that would be Tropic Thunder in 2008. Zoolander No. 2 is effectively the most faithful sequel ever created, in terms of honouring and praising the original movie. Every figure, face and delivered line from the 2001 classic is revered and remembered in the sequel. Although both the new and recycled humour of the movie have varying degrees of success.
Zoolander No. 2 opens with the death of a beloved celebrity and acclaimed beautiful person(Do we love him or hate him? When did we stop hating him again?), followed quickly by a rehash of the events of Zoolander, with an ascending timeline to the present day. Derek Zoolander has isolated himself in shame, after the “Derek Zoolander Centre for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to do Other Stuff Good Too” collapses, killing his wife Matilda and permanently scarring Hansel (making him hideous in the eyes of Derek and Hansel).
When an old friend comes to visit Derek, he encourages Derek to get back in the saddle and prove to the world he is a father capable of raising Derek Junior, whom the state had taken away from him, labelling Derek an unfit parent. His road to redemption starts with an offering from the mysterious Alexanya Atoz…
I’ve made a half-assed attempt at concealing any possible cameos thus far, because I for one favour the anonymity of cameos in movies. But trust me, you name a character from the original Zoolander and you’ll find them here. Pretty much every player from the first film is here, plus a whole new bevy of cameos for people to point at in the cinema and say “oh look who it is”. Some of them are genuinely funny. But aside from the cameos that do work, there are a lot that don’t. Some seem included for the sake of being there, while some are relevant and do try to be clever, but are dreadfully unfunny upon execution. In amongst all of these faces is the controversial Benedict Cumberbatch role of All. Whether you find Cumberbatch's inclusion offensive or not, he only takes up a grand total of maybe four minutes. A lot of controversy was surrounding that four minutes.
The plot is nonsensical but it puts all the members of the Zoolander clan in the right places for the jokes to unfurl. As a fan of the first film, the majority of these jokes worked well for me, though I can understand for someone new to the series, or overall unamused by the first film, a lot of what happens in Zoolander No. 2 would not be hitting the right notes. It’s tailor made for the die hard fans, and for that, Zoolander No. 2 both flourishes and suffers.
The film takes it up a fairly large notch in terms of insanity, something I think needed to happen to properly continue the Zoolander saga. The subtext this film tries to convey definitely isn’t as strong or well-delivered as it was in Zoolander, nor is it as clever, but it’s just enough to stop you asking “what’s the point?” at the end of it all. Derek and Hansel both play the parts as you'd expect. Owen Wilson has the stronger game here, making the stupid appear more genuinely stupid than Ben Stiller. Stiller’s Zoolander now is not as strong as it was before, and some lines just aren’t delivered as well as they could’ve been in 2001.
A lot of the supporting cast are funny but are shamefully underused. Kristen Wiig is having the most fun out of them all but never truly gets to shine, while Will Ferrell's Jacobim Mugatu is the saving grace of the film, only to appear too late in the action and have too little to do at that point. Kyle Mooney was funny at first, but the template that his dialogue is based off got boring and predictable very fast, and definitely not worth the amount of time they gave him. It would've been a much stronger film comedically if some of his screen time was shortened in favour of some of the other characters. This movie made me laugh, but it didn’t give me any real gut-busting laughs. It was amusing throughout, but nothing more.
To give this movie a score, I really have to divide it into two categories; for Zoolander fans in one section, and for everyone else in the other. For the fans, it delivers a few laughs and nostalgic kicks all the way, and the momentum does pick up when Will Ferrell arrives(it’s almost like he saves the film). But for anyone outside of that spectrum, it’ll be a bore all the way through, and for the high brow crowd who got lost on the way to Carol, they’ll be done with it before Zoolander can mispronounce something.
For fans: 6/10
For the rest of you: 3/10