Zoolander hit cinemas at the end of September 2001 and fizzled – taking in just $60 million at the box office despite the presence of stars like Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and Owen Wilson. But the film had an uncanny ability to stay in public consciousness, picking up more and more fans on home media and making it impossible for star/writer/director Stiller to avoid being asked about a sequel in every interview forever.
So here you have it. After 15 years, Zoolander 2.
And it’s really an entire feature of fan service. The characters are back pretty much as we left them, the tone is as silly as ever and the jokes are also pretty familiar. For those who have been watching and rewatching the old feature for years, this will feel instantly warm and fuzzy.
Stiller and his co-writers have wormed in a little more skewering of the fashion industry, with the idea of trash as art taken to an extreme. The script has moments of inspiration, like Benedict Cumberbatch’s gender-straddling All, but it’s really just a way to get the pieces in play for another bust up with Will Ferrell’s Mugatu.
The plotting is all but nonsensical, drawing broadly from heroes quests, spy movies and slapstick silliness. For what it’s worth Stiller is doing his best and he and Wilson still make a good pair onscreen but it’s all a little too weightless and patchy.
It’s also pretty dark at times, with some emotionally fraught issues dealt with in a way that’s bypasses funny to go straight to crass. These characters are idiots, but that doesn’t mean they have to be monstrous.
If you’re into cameos then you’re onto a winner – Sting, Kanye, Kim K, Katy Perry, Lewis Hamilton, Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, Lenny Kravitz, Kiefer Sutherland and Billy Zane all pop up. And even if it feels like they’re all just doing their buddy Ben a favour it still makes for a bizarre cast list.
I admit that the first Zoolander didn’t do much for me and this long delayed sequel feels less fresh, less energetic and even less funny. There’s a bizarre tone which some may find appealing and long time fans will likely be entertained but otherwise there’s nothing much to see here.