It was back in 2001 when actor/director Ben Stiller brilliantly poked fun at the modeling world with the very clever, “Zoolander.” His constantly posing (and not-so-bright) character of supermodel Derek Zoolander provided some very welcome, light entertainment. Fifteen years... and numerous scripts later, Stiller has brought Zoolander back... but the result is not nearly as impressive.
The movie begins with a big chase involving pop star Justin Bieber who dies a very- drawn out and amusing death, but not before leaving a clue: a selfie with him striking one of Zoolander’s famous poses. This gets the attention of Interpol’s “Global Fashion Division” led by the engaging Penelope Cruz. It seems pop stars all over the world are getting killed and they want to find out why. By the way, “Zoolander 2” is loaded with a mind-numbing amount of celebrity cameos, many of which are so brief that you’ll have to review the credits to see who all appeared.
We find out that Derek Zoolander is a shadow of his former self, broken by a tragic (yet amusing) tragedy that has him living out of the limelight, separated from his young son (Cyrus Alexander). Before long, he’s reunited in Italy with his former modeling nemesis-turned friend – Hansel – played by the returning Owen Wilson.
As always, these two frequent co-stars play well off each other.
The script by Stiller, John Hamburg, Justin Theroux (who has a small role as a headmaster) and Nick Stoller contains a number of hits but even more misses. Jokes about about a hotel with “farm to table wi-fi” and Hansel’s orgy posse fall very flat.
Some of the better moments come courtesy of the strained relationship between Zoolander and his angry son (The model doesn’t react well to the boy’s weight issues). Other highlights include Benedict Cumberbatch in a small but memorable role as a creepy model whose gender is a very open question.
Kristen Wiig also makes an impact as a flamboyant fashion designer, even though she is nearly unrecognizable under an impressive make-up job.
Will Ferrell returns as the villain Mugatu, but doesn’t appear until nearly an hour into the film. Ferrell is often guilty of going too-over-the-top with his characters but is much more entertaining this time out.
Penelope Cruz is excellent in her role, showing off some comedy chops, especially when she hilariously recounts her failed career as a swimsuit model.
The problem with “Zoolander 2” is that there’s too much of, “been there, done that.”
The jokes about the intellect of male models are no longer fresh or as amusing.
Part of the story has the two leads wondering is they are still relevant. Well, maybe it’s time for these guys to take that last runway bow and move onto a new chapter.
Rating: 2 popcorn boxes out of 4.