Zoolander 2, 2016.
Directed by Ben Stiller.
Starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Justin Theroux, Christine Taylor, Billy Zane, Kiefer Sutherland, Milla Jovovich, Cyrus Arnold, Nathan Lee Graham, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Derek and Hansel are modelling again when an opposing company attempts to take them out from the business.
When a movie opens up with Justin Bieber getting absolutely slaughtered and mowed down by an Uzi containing a seemingly never-ending amount of bullets, one would think that the rest of the experience would hold up as a piece of disposable yet mildly hilarious entertainment. After all, there does come a very liberating sense of satisfaction from watching Justin Bieber’s body soak up lead for a full straight minute.
Sadly, Zoolander 2 peaks within its opening minutes (and even the scene I’m referencing isn’t that laugh out loud funny), quickly falling into almost every dreaded pitfall that comedy sequels rarely avoid. The movie is mostly a series of jokes paying homage to the original cult classic, except on a grander scale and with more bravado. If Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller, who also once again is a writer and directs the film) stopped a Chinese throwing star in midair with his seductive gaze in the first film, you can bet your ass that this movie will attempt the same finale, but just with bigger, and much more weirder stakes.
The crippling flaw with Zoolander 2 though isn’t just the familiarity of everything happening on-screen, but just how remarkably unfunny the whole movie really is. Things open up with a montage that falls completely flat as it details what the characters have been up to for the past 15 years, also including a key death that doesn’t elicit any laughs. It just feels rather mean-spirited, dumb, and pointless. Nevertheless, Derek and Hansel have become hermits living a life of seclusion, but essentially must come out of retirement when the safety of Derek’s child (which was taken away from him on the grounds of being an unfit parent) is threatened.
Also connected are a string of murders on numerous mainstream pop culture icons of the world, meaning it’s basically up to our pair of dimwitted heroes to save the day. Similar to the recent failure of Dumb and Dumber To (another long gestated comedy sequel that crashed and burned upon release, although to be fair, I somewhat enjoyed that one), the characters of Derek and Hansel have grown increasingly stupid to the point where it is no longer amusing, but unbelievably frustrating with its towering levels of idiocy. Without spoiling much, there is a scene where Mugato (Will Ferrell returning as the villain) uses reverse psychology to aid his escape from prison, while the characters fall for it, leaving you face-palming yourself in disbelief rather than cracking up.
The consistent dead air throughout Zoolander 2 also ensures awkward narrative pacing, resulting in a movie that doesn’t even really begin greasing the wheels of its true plot until the experience is thankfully and mercifully almost over. Even the structure of the editing gives off the feeling that some characters had more to do originally, but were left on the cutting room floor, either because the plot wasn’t working as intended or that the scenes were somehow even less funny than what is already here.
Admittedly, once Will Ferrell does come into the picture, Zoolander 2 does pick up to an extent and remains marginally interesting based on the fact of how bizarre and creative the motivations of Mugatu are. Meanwhile, the much talked about celebrity cameos (which absolutely bombard the film in an extended sequence towards the end of the picture) are absolutely worthless, with lines delivered beyond amateurishly. It’s not funny at all and hurts the movie if anything. The celebrity cameos that worked are the ones that exist faded into the background, leaving people online discussing who they have found hidden.
If nothing else, props do have to be given for the set and costume designers for at least making Zoolander 2 interesting to behold aesthetically. The modeling outfits are all ridiculous (in one of the more obvious cameos, Benedict Cumberbatch does absolutely steal a few scenes as an androgynous model not exclusively male or female), and it’s always lovely seeing Rome. It also feels as if every few minutes you get to play a game of “What in the fuck is Owen Wilson wearing now?”
As a whole however, Zoolander 2 is just another major misfire in the hit or miss world of comedy sequels. Ben Stiller adopted the modern formula of going bigger and bolder, which unfortunately does not work out because he is too busy distracted by cramming in as many celebrity cameos as he can, instead of constructing a worthwhile script allowing him to actually create jokes.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★