Film Review: Zoolander 2

by Evan Brown

Rated M. Starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell. Directed by Ben Stiller.

Since 2001 male modeling has had a shadow cast over it by one man and five syllables: De-rek Zoo-land-er.  It’s been fifteen years since the world’s favourite “eugoogalizer” has graced the silver screen but by popular demand the self-absorbed model is back in Zoolander 2.

After a tragic accident at Derek Zoolander’s Center For Those Who Can’t Read Good and Want To Do Other Stuff Good Too resulting in the death of Derek’s wife Matilda (Christine Taylor) and the “severe” face disfigurement of his best friend/model (not the other way around) Hansel (Wilson), our beloved dim-witted model finds himself without a job, without a wife and without his best friend.

Due to his incompetence at parenting Social Services takes Derek’s only son – Derek Junior – away.  Instead of fighting for custody Derek stays true to his self-absorbed form and retires from the world (and the world of modeling) to live a life of solitude away from civilization.  It is only by the persuasion of his friend Billy Zane that he should make a return and fight to get his son back.  Along the road to redemption Derek and his best friend Hansel find themselves entwined in a celebrity mass murder mystery that somehow involves his own son and the evil fashion mastermind Mugatu (Will Ferrell) – remember he was the guy that invented the piano key neck tie?

But you’re probably reading this wondering if 2oolander lives up to the hype of the original Zoolander movie – a movie so influential that it changed popular culture as we know it. The original Zoolander had so many quotable one-liners that it affected how the general public spoke.  I can’t count the amount of times people have used the phrase “…ridiculously good looking” or “so hot right now” to describe something.  Zoolander’s quotability changed popular culture’s vernacular.

Unfortunately like other forced sequels (Anchorman 2, Shrek 2) Zoolander 2 fails to create the desired effect that its predecessor had. The one-liners are too forced and too common for them to hit their mark.  The random situations and dialogue that made you laugh hysterically in disbelief in the original are gone – replaced with “random” situations and dialogue that seemed to try too hard and feel over-scripted.

The over saturation of celebrity cameos lost their impact as well.  In Zoolander it was a comical surprise to see famous actors have bizarre moments in the film – remember David Bowie judging the walk-off?  In Zoolander 2 it felt like every second scene was a bombardment of celebrities.  This is a perfect case of salt losing its saltiness.

This reminds me of Luke 14:34 which says “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavour, how do you make it salty again?” Christians know that to be salt of the earth is to put their allegiance in Jesus and set themselves apart from the world.  Not in a literal sense but to not follow our sinful inclinations.  If we become too engrossed in the world how can be effective Disciples of Christ?  Too much of something loses its impact and unfortunately the plethora of celebrity cameos in Zoolander 2 is a perfect example of that.

As a child my Chinese mother would limit the amount of Chinese Sausage (Lup-Cheung) I could eat at dinner time – only five pieces with my rice, chicken and vegetables.  When I was 18 I had moved out from home and one of the first things I did was cook five whole Chinese Sausages (the equivalent of 50 pieces).   I remember by the 10th piece it started to all taste the same – like saturated fat.  If only Ben Stiller had learnt the Chinese Sausage lesson that I had.

By no means is Zoolander 2 a terrible sequel.   It does a great job flagging the stupidity of popular culture and you may find yourself laughing through many parts of the film – especially in the scenes with Will Ferrell.  It’s just that because the original film was such an influential movie, this sequel could never live up to the hype.

The Verdict: Zoolander was so dumb it was fantastic. Zoolander 2 tries to recapture that essence but tries a bit too hard. 2.5/5

Zoolander 2 will be released in cinemas worldwide on February 11th.

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