Zoolander No. 2 (2016)

Derek Zoolander is a stupid man. He’s not slow or dim-witted. He’s just stupid, and ridiculously good-looking — in his own head. So it only makes sense that the movie he runs around in is just as stupid, and ridiculously good-looking — in its own head.

I saw Zoolander 2 later than most people because I was busy being cool trying to avoid that “lame Zoolander sequel”, but I must say, having seen it now, that I enjoyed it. I didn’t think it was funny, or clever, or good in any general sense of the word, but there was something about its off-the-hook plot that completely lofted me away to a place in which care and concern no longer existed.

Years have passed since the first film, and that honourable research school for kids that Derek so righteously wanted to build has collapsed in a smoky heap just two days after it opened. Killed in the rubble is Ben Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor, and 2 centimetres of skin on Owen Wilson’s right cheekbone. That’s as bad as a football player losing… well, 2 centimetres of skin on his right cheekbone.

Wilson’s Hansel has gone into hiding, among a troupe of oddball orgy companions (in the middle of the desert no less), and Derek has retreated to the Scandinavian wilderness because authorities removed his son, Zoolander Jr (Cyrus Arnold), from his care after a terrifying spaghetti incident. Both models are urged back into the fashion den by a cameo-ing Billy Zane, who somehow knows where all the models are across the globe at any given time.

Zane says the two men have been invited by the puffy-faced monster queen, Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig), to attend her IncrediBALL (self-explanatory), where all the latest trends will be put on display. This Atoz is a real work of art. She looks nothing like Kristen Wiig, her costumes border on the sensually insane, and she speaks in a kind of wonky Eastern European accent that sounds more like a radio losing power midway through an important broadcast. It’s actually very funny, and Wiig’s pitch-perfect delivery (coupled with her priceless prosthetic facial expressions) ends up being Zoolander 2’s gift. There’s just not enough of it.

Another of the movie’s high notes is reached by Will Ferrell, reprising his sinister role as the fashion guru Mugatu. He escapes from prison in the silliest of ways, pointlessly sheds both his prison pajamas and a fake muscle body suit, leaps into his getaway helicopter — and complains about his latte. He is also handed his old pet dog, which is clearly stuffed and which later reveals a nonsensical (and possibly quite disturbing) nuclear secret.

On top of all this rubbish is a personal story about Derek trying to reclaim his son from the evil clutches of normalcy. Penelope Cruz parades through the story, riding sexy bikes and flaunting her fulsome chest. Her character works for some fashion police yada-yada, but really, who’s going to care what she does when how she’s doing it makes her look so damn good?

This is the whackiest of whacky comedies (I hesitate to call it such, considering my laughs came at an exorbitant premium). Cameos are aplenty. Jokes and gags fall flat. Performances are predictable. The entire idea is undeserving. But the plot — the plot is what got me. It’s so outrageous it kinda borders on admirable. You have to either be bold or dumb to dream up a story about Adam, Eve, and Steve (the very first male model), and the almost ritualistic protection of Steve’s present-day descendant, whose blood is rumoured to possess anti-aging qualities. You can see why Tommy Hilfiger and Anna Wintour want their hands on it. It’s so stupid, yet fits so comfortably into this demonic world of high class fashion.

And then there’s the phenomenon of the looks; the Blue Steels and the Magnums, but that’s another rubbish heap for another day.

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