By Jack Dignan
After 15 long years of waiting, Ben Stiller has finally returned to the iconic role of Derek Zoolander, the male model whose signature looks include the likes of Blue Steele, Magnum and many others. Can't tell the difference between all of them? You're clearly not looking hard enough. But yes, Derek has returned, along with plenty of the old crew, including Owen Wilson's so-hot-right-now Hansel and Will Ferrell's super evil criminal, Mugatu. The cast may have returned, but does that mean this comedy sequel lives up to the first? Well, yes and no. You'll find out.
Zoolander 2 picks up fifteen years after the first, with Zoolander in hiding after an accident occurred and his child, Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold), was taken away from him. After hearing about a new fashion icon, Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig), rising in the fashion world, Zoolander returns from hibernation to give modelling another shot, and who does he happen to find there? His old buddy, Hansel, who's also been in hiding, but for very different reasons. Things are beginning to look up, but it doesn't take long before everything comes crumbling down. Secret agent Valentina (Penélope Cruz) comes for the two of them, hoping to get their help in investigating a case involving the death of beautiful celebrities, all of whom have died while giving off one of Zoolander's signature looks.
After fifteen years, you wouldn't expect Zoolander 2 to have that big of a fan base, right? Wrong. Zoolander 2 most definitely has its fans, so much so that it broke records for views of a comedy trailer. That's a lot of people who are eagerly anticipating this long awaited sequel, and so it obviously has a lot to live up to. It delivers with mixed results, although the final product is definitely a satisfying one. No, this film is not great. No, it's not nearly as good as the first film. No, it's not at all consistent. Yes, it's a hell of a good time.
Zoolander 2 has to be the single most ridiculous film I have seen in ages. In fact, I highly doubt that another film in 2016 will manage to be half as ridiculous as this one is. It's a wild and wacky ride as these iconic characters are put into the weirdest of scenarios. If you thought the first film was crazy, you haven't seen anything yet. While the first is funnier, it could almost be considered tame when compared to its follow up. Ben Stiller is clearly having a great time making one of the most outrageous movies I have ever seen, and the film has no shame in being this. It's almost proud of its ridiculousness in a weird way.
The best aspects of this movie are certainly the cast. Zoolander 2 brings together the likes of Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Penélope Cruz and countless other celebrity cameos for a film that, while not always funny, is enjoyable to watch from start to finish. The jokes don't always hit, but there's rarely a dull moment. It's a fun time at the movies, and watching the crowd laugh along with you is just the best. The film opens with the death of Justin Bieber, something I would not consider a spoiler as it is in the trailer, and when his death occurred, the audience burst into applause. If nothing else, Zoolander 2 managed to kill Justin Bieber in a shockingly violent way, and for that I am forever thankful.
Comedy sequels are really hard to nail, most just doing a complete remake of the first, but with new, not quite as funny jokes. When it comes to Zoolander 2, it's really hard to tell whether or not they just rehashed the first film. On the one hand, there are plenty of callbacks to the first film, or at least similar scenarios. On the other hand, whenever these similar scenes happen, Ben Stiller takes them in a direction you don't expect, seemingly poking fun at the comedy sequel formula. It's hard to tell whether or not this move was deliberate, but because the jokes manage to work, it's all fine in my books.
The plot may not be a rehash, but that doesn't mean it's coherent, either. This film is a mess, everything happening, but at the same time, nothing really happening. There's so many scenarios and events that appear to be important and are treated as if they're key moments to the plot, but they don't follow through with any thing. I'm honestly not sure if this film is about Zoolander and Hansel trying to get back into the world of modelling, Zoolander trying to get custody of his son, the government trying to find out who's responsible for a bunch of celebrity murders, or if it's something else entirely. I think there was something important involving Mugatu? I can't really remember what the relevance of it was, though. This film is all over the place, but perhaps we have the four different writers to blame for that. Perhaps this is just a culmination of all four of their scripts. That wouldn't actually surprise me.
Even by Zoolander standards, this film is just dumb. There are jokes that work, and these jokes work really well, and then there are jokes that are arguably too dumb, and they fall flat. The film tries too hard to get laughs, and some of the time it comes across as awkward and unfunny. It misses almost as many times as it hits, but thankfully, when the jokes do hit, they hit hard. Everything else, however, just.... doesn't. But the thing is, I'm talking about Zoolander 2 here. What was I really expecting? The Zoolander films were never meant to be taken seriously, but hey, at least the first film didn't try so hard that it fell flat on its face. At least that one flowed smoothly.
To sum up, Zoolander 2 isn't the really, really, ridiculously good movie I was hoping it would be, but Ben Stiller has still managed to create a quotable, laugh out loud comedy sequel that's a worthy follow up to the now-famous original.