Director: Ben Stiller
Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig and Penelope Cruz
Running Time: 102 minutes
Release Date: February 12th
Fifteen years on and Derek Zoolander is back; his looks remain in place, his intelligence remains low but he is now a broken man, living in hiding, devastated by the death of his wife and the loss of his son. Zoolander is soon lured back to public life and is recruited by Interpol’s Fashion police to help track down who has been killing celebrities all over the globe. For those of you with a questionable sense of perspective, you’ll get to enjoy a prolonged death scene for the teeny-bopper, Justin Bieber.
Fears for this one are high; although a commercial flop upon release (in fairness, 9/11 would have probably killed Star Wars at the box office) the film found its audience on home release and is an ever present staple in the DVD collections of anyone born after 1983. However, expectations are low; in an odd sense the film was done an inadvertent favour by 2013’s Anchorman 2. That film occupied a similar place in popular culture and was also released a ridiculously long time after the first outing. Hopes that it could be anywhere near as good as the first were quickly dashed and it’s now hurtling along to join the likes of Blues Brothers 2000 in the category of sequels we all pretend don’t exist.
So, is that bad? Thankfully, no. In terms of sheer laughs there is enough to keep you laughing consistently throughout its 102 minute running time (say what you want about Stiller as a director, he knows the importance of keeping comedy tight). Traditionally speaking, sequels attempt to do things bigger or faster than the first film; this can mean that things just become preposterous (just rewatch the first Fast and Furious film to see my point). This is Zoolander 2’s trump card; the first film was about a male supermodel who was brainwashed into attempting to kill the Malaysian prime minister by the man who invented the keyboard tie. If you’re willing to accept that as a plot then there is nothing here that you can argue is out of keeping with the spirit of the original.
The film has also managed to expand its universe of characters in a manner that is only beneficial, there’s no Buster Blues or Chani Lastname here. Stiller and Wilson are by now a bankable double act but there’s not much room for development in these characters and sensibly not much space is given attempting to do so. Instead, their strengths and those of the returning Will Ferrell are the centre around which Kristen Wiig’s Alexanya Atoz and Penelope Cruz’s Valentina are anchored. Wiig is on especially great form here and would probably walk away with the film were it not for Cyrus Arnold, the child actor playing Derek Junior, who quietly packs up the film and walks with it.
It does have its failings; Benedict Cumberbatch’s transgender, All, does look like they had a good idea at one stage but just comes across as satire kicking in the wrong direction. There’s also an especially tasteless joke at the end which just jars on account of its incongruity (nothing against tasteless jokes, this one just feels like it walked in from different film). And although it does nothing to diminish the original, all truly good sequels should enhance the film that has gone before, this doesn’t. Just like the recurring Saturday Night Live sketch upon which this film was based, this outing is similar jokes trotting over similar ground, without retracting from the quality of the previous week’s skit. If you’re happy enough for more of the same then you’ve nothing to fear here.