MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Zoolander 2’ is for someone, apparently

zoolander 2

Film: Zoolander 2
Directed by: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig

The original Zoolander still remains as a bit of an enigma, in my head. It was about a dumb man saving the world and the hijinks that would ensue because of that idiocy, maybe with a little bit of fashion industry satire sprinkled in. Somehow, it still ended up being funny, partially due to all of the people involved being completely dedicated to one gag. Zoolander 2 isn’t all that different. Actually, it’s almost identical in execution. This time, though, the gag isn’t funny and the satire is completely missing. Gone is any sense of placing characters in a room and watching them fumble over things. This is the cameo-packed, fan-serving (what fans?) sequel that somebody asked for, whoever they are. A rare movie that actually succeeds in being dumber and more unfunny than the pop culture zeitgeist it tries to depict.

Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) has been missing since 2009 because of the death of his wife and estrangement of his nine-year-old son after being deemed unfit as a parent. After receiving a message from Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) to participate in her new popular fashion show, Derek sees a chance to redeem himself and possibly get his son back in the process. Naturally, his old arch nemesis, Mugatu (Will Ferrell), has some nefarious plans in mind that may deter Derek from becoming the fashion god he was once before.

As is with every movie dragging back the hero for one more go at it, Derek Zoolander is bound to encounter old foes, friends, and obstacles. That new obstacle being a society that has almost completely forgotten about him. But after a series of pop culture celebrities start using his signature look, “Blue Steel,” before their untimely deaths, Zoolander may be the only one who can solve whatever conspiracy lies underneath the murders. Like the original, everything pertaining to popular culture at the time of release plays an integral part in the story, like Katy Perry or whatever Vine star scored an endorsement deal by being in the movie. So many familiar faces ranging from Sting to Neil Degrasse Tyson show up to throw in a line or two just to show everyone they’re tuned into what’s hip.

zoolander 2 wiig

Funny thing about trying to be privy to what is hip or happening today: If you’re going to shamelessly shove a bunch of famous people into a movie, then make the gags complement those people showing up. Zoolander 2 is the kind of film that keeps pointing at those people in the cameos, laughing, and then asking them what they’re doing there. I’m not entirely sure Kiefer Sutherland knew what he was doing there, either.

The biggest problem with Zoolander 2 is that the cast seems convinced that every single line they have will elicit laughs. It’s admirable to see Stiller throw everything and the kitchen sink at a concept that’s faded as much as the original film has. Benedict Cumberbatch as a transvestite called “All” and Penelope Cruz swimming like a dolphin because her swimsuit model days gave her super abilities? Really? Even though that theme of staying relevant doesn’t recur throughout the whole film, you can almost sense that Stiller understands that nobody may want this but he’s going to do everything in his power to keep your attention on the screen, for better or worse.

The attention stays, maybe not for the right reasons, but it stays. There’s so many things being thrown at you at once that it’ll keep the most easily distracted people attentive. I mean, Owen Wilson’s Hansel has orgies with so many celebrities that you can only consider the gag as heartless excess. Excess is the name of the game here, and if that is what Stiller and Co. were going for, then they succeeded. For those wondering if that excess can produce any laughs: Meter your expectations of the film upon how enjoyable you find Justin Bieber getting shot in a hail of gunfire for what seems like hours.

GRADE: D-

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen is that guy you can't have a conversation with without bringing up Michael Mann. He is also incapable of separating himself from his teenage angst (looking at you, Yellowcard). Read on as he tries to formulate words about movies!
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