Doug Reviews: Zoolander 2 (2016)

After fifteen years, Derek Zoolander is back in his long-awaited sequel, Zoolander 2. Is the world’s dumbest model still hilarious or has time passed him by?MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD

The film, directed by star Ben Stiller, picks up where Zoolander left off, but that’s also where Derek Zoolander’s (Stiller) falls apart. After he loses his wife, Matilda (Christine Taylor) and his son, Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold), Zoolander goes into seclusion for fifteen years, as does Hansel (Owen Wilson) when he is “disfigured” in an accident. The two are lured back to the fashion world by an old friend to participate in Alexanya Atoz’s (Kristen Wiig) fashion show for hip new designer, Don Atari (Kyle Mooney). Meanwhile, someone is sending out hit teams to murder pop stars, attracting the attention of Interpol’s Fashion Division. Its lead agent, Valentina (Penelope Cruz), recognizes the face that all the murdered pop stars make is a signature Zoolander look and she seeks him out to help solve her case. Their investigation leads them into a convoluted plot that eventually leads Derek back into conflict with Mugatu (Will Ferrell). Will Derek reunite with his son? Will he find out who’s killing the pop stars and why? Do we even care?

Zoolander 2 is a completely unnecessary sequel. The first hour of the film is almost completely devoid of laughs. There are two really funny scenes in that hour – a throwback commercial of Zoolander’s and a boat scene – but the scant laughs beyond those scenes are merely chuckle-worthy at best. Once Mugatu shows up in the last half hour, though, the laughs do pick up. The problem with the film is that it feels all over the place. It tries to marry the spy elements of the first film with a Da Vinci Code-style plot, while trying to be a comedy. The filmmakers worked too hard to try and shoehorn all these elements together and none of them work very well. The spy genre worked for the last film because of what Mugatu’s plan entailed, but in this one, the plan doesn’t really fit that genre well. Stiller and his collaborators clearly think that’s what made the last Zoolander work, but it’s not. This film should have just centered on Derek and Hansel trying to reclaim their places in the fashion world and mined the comedy from there, since the movie is at its best when it is poking fun at the fashion and advertising industries.

The other big problem with Zoolander 2 is that the script is just not that good. The screenplay is credited to four writers: Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Nicholas Stoller, and John Hamburg and just as Derek and Hansel went into hiding in the film, it feels like the screenwriters did the same in real life. Many of the jokes are tone deaf and out of touch with the current social climate, falling flat in most cases. For much of the film, it feels like the screenplay was written ten years ago and then dug out of a drawer to be filmed last year. And that only covers the unfunny comedy elements. The entire script’s structure is a mess, introducing so many useless characters for seemingly no reason.

Stiller has still got it as Zoolander, but I wish he’d had more funny things to say. Wilson is fine as Hansel, but his story line isn’t that funny, so I was completely disinterested in his part. Cruz is fine as the swimsuit model turned cop, but she’s really just there as eye candy. Wiig could have been a great, bizarre character, but she is woefully underutilized. Ferrell is deliriously stupid as Mugatu and is the one bright spot in the whole production. There are also some very clever cameos throughout.

Overall, Zoolander 2 is wholly unnecessary. It is not nearly funny enough to recommend, though there are a few funny moments, especially when Will Ferrell gets involved. Just skip this one and watch the first one on DVD.

 

Rating: C-

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