Fifteen years ago, we were graced with the beautiful satire comedy of Zoolander. Now, for some reason, they’re releasing a sequel. Was a Zoolander sequel needed – even wanted? I would probably say no to both; despite that, Zoolander 2 manages to be an entertaining and funny (if inconsistent) revisiting of this world of really really good-looking men.
The story opens by explaining that following the events of the first film, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) has entered a state of self-exile in “extreme northern New Jersey.” His Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to do Other Stuff Good Too collapsed into the river after just two days, killing his wife and disfiguring the face of Hansel (Owen Wilson). Derek is soon found out to be totally inept as a parent to his son, Derek Jr., who was then taken away from him by child services.
Hansel and Derek end up reuniting after being invited to participate in a fashion show by the new queen of the industry, Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig), but are made fools of at the event. They soon discover that something far more sinister is going on, and end up teaming up with Interpol agent Melanie Valentina (Penelope Cruz) to figure out what’s really happening and to track down Derek Jr. in the process.
As it turns out, Derek Jr. is the key to the Fountain of Youth – which turns out not to be an actual fountain at all. A legend states that the Garden of Eden featured not two, but three humans: Adam, Eve, and Steve. Steve was the most beautiful man to have ever lived, and his blood carried the key to eternal beauty. Derek Jr., being the most recent descendant of Steve, is therefore kidnapped by Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) and offered as a sacrifice in order for the world’s greatest fashion icons to achieve said beauty. It’s up to Zoolander, Hansel, Melanie and, uh, Sting, for some reason, to rescue Derek Jr. and put a stop to Mugatu once and for all.
I’m sure you can tell at this point that Zoolander 2’s story is really dumb. Like, wildly ridiculous – somehow more so than the first one. It’s really stupid. But it manages to be fun. Unfortunately, the first 25 minutes or so of the film are probably the worst part; it just isn’t funny at all. But once they get to the first fashion show, things really take off and don’t look back. It’s too bad that the opening scenes are just so unfunny.
Speaking of that first fashion show, that’s where we see Benedict Cumberbatch’s character, “All,” who was the subject of much debate after the trailer first came out. A lot of people felt that (based on a whole eight seconds of a trailer, mind you) that the character was transphobic. Having now seen the film, let me go ahead and say that this is not the case. All does not come off as a parody or a joke against the trans community in any way; they state that they “do not adhere to the gender binary” and instead, Derek and Hansel come off as complete jackasses for asking the questions they ask. So if you had any worry at all about that, let that be dispelled – and go ahead and note that Cumberbatch is only on screen for maybe a total of three minutes, too.
I actually found the acting to be really decent – definitely on par, if not better than the first movie. Mugatu is definitely one of my favorite of Ferrell’s roles, and even though he doesn’t show up until two-thirds of the way through the film, he’s still a standout. Kristen Wiig doesn’t get nearly enough screentime as Alexanya, but she steals every scene she’s in. And, like the first film, Zoolander 2 features a number of cameos from celebrities and fashion icons; I appreciated Marc Jacobs being referred to as “Marc By Marc Jacobs” and Tommy Hilfiger being ripped a new one. Much as I don’t care for the fashion industry, I can get on board with the big brand names being harshly made fun of.
So, final verdict: Zoolander 2 is a funny film with a high amount of entertainment value despite inconsistencies and the fact that the plot is just wildly stupid. It's definitely not as good as the first one, either, for what that's worth. I’m not going to sit here and call it a great film or even a must-see – but in a February release schedule that maybe has two other worthwhile films (Deadpool and Hail, Caesar!, namely), it’s not difficult to fit it in.
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