Derek Zoolander – inventor of signature poses Blue Steel and Magnum, and founder of The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too – is back in a long-awaited follow up to his first big screen outing way back in 2001.
Ben Stiller is charged with ensuring that nearly 15 years of fan patience is rewarded as he returns both to the role of the “ridiculously good looking” male model, and to the directors’ chair. The knowingly silly story begins with Zoolander in exile following the death of his wife and the (literal) collapse of his charitable venture shortly after we saw him last. Our hero is tempted back onto the fickle fashion industry by a mysterious job offer from current zeitgeist Alexanya Anoz (Kristen Wiig, clearly revelling in her zaniest role to date) that reunites him with fellow faded clotheshorse Hansel (Owen Wilson). Together, the two are then recruited by Interpol agent Valentina (Penélope Cruz, floundering a little as a one-dimensional “straight man”) to help crack a The Da Vinci Code-style plot involving the murder of a number of high-profile pop stars and the kidnap of Zoolander’s estranged son (Cyrus Arnold).
So far so similar to the spy-thriller parody around which the first film was built, but there’s a different focus here: away from the close-up charm of airheaded dim-witticisms and cringingly narcissistic character study, and onto clichéd chase film pastiche and flashy CGI, the gap between gags stretched to breaking point as a result. There a few fresh laughs to be had via Zoolander’s bemusement at the new generation installed at the head of the fashion table in his absence (exemplified by Kyle Mooney’s mumbling hipster designer Dom Atari), but these are crowded out by by-numbers retreading of the best of the first film’s sharply satirical quips and weaker material, often delivered by one of a plethora of celebrities not known for their comic abilities, appearing under an apparent policy of cameo for cameo’s sake. One toe-curling low point features “hashtag oops!” delivered as a punch line – which is unforgivable no matter what amount of irony it’s dressed up in.
Ultimately, a tendency toward big-budget overindulgence, coupled with a relative dearth of genuinely funny moments mean this is a sequel that takes a tumble on the catwalk well short of the mark set by its predecessor.
Zoolander 2 is released nationwide on 12th February 2016.
Watch the trailer for Zoolander 2 here: