‘Zoolander 2’ Continues Silly, Surreal Hilarity

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CHICAGO – Humor is subject to the receiver, of course, and what is funny is as distinct to each individual as a fingerprint. Having said that, I found “Zoolander 2” to be hilarious, as it delivered again what made the first film work – tweaking the self-importance of fashion and celebrity.

Ben Stiller is back as Derek Zoolander, the world’s greatest male model, and like the first film he is also the director. The plot has more of a James Bond feel, and is set in Rome. The film also takes awhile to get into gear – the set-up is a bit weary – but once it breaks out the silly and the surreal idiocy that characterized the first film, the laughs start coming. It’s impossible to define why such antics contain such mirth, but any film that features science star Neil deGrasse Tyson and Kiefer Sutherland in odd cameos can’t be all bad.

The story picks up where the first film left off. Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) had just built the Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good, but the materials to build it proved unstable (instead of concrete, they used rubber cement). The building collapses on rival male model Hanzel (Owen Wilson) and kills Zoolander’s wife Matilda (Christine Taylor). Both Zoolander and a disfigured Hanzel go into hiding, and Zoolander’s son is taken away from him.

Zoolander 2
The Cast of ‘Zoolander 2’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Fast forward 15 years. A new fashion guru named Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) wants Zoolander and Hanzel to make a comeback in Rome. Meanwhile, the agency Interpol (Fashion Division) is investigating the deaths of various pop and rock stars. Head agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz) suspects a connection to the two male models, and recruits them into the case. Zoolander only agrees if it means finding his son (Cyrus Arnold).



Zoolander is funny because it makes jokes about a world, that with only a few exaggerations, actually exists. Modeling, fashion and the celebrity associated with it is inherently bizarre, and just with a few tweaks can be made silly and stupid, and that is what both Zoolander films do best. If you love silly, stupid and surreal humor, “Z2” piles it on thick, and recruits the right cast – Benedict Cumberbatch portrays a model named “All,” for example – to pull it off.

The Bond-like plot hits and misses, but at least it brought back Will Ferrell as Mugatu, in an extended prison sequence that was really strange and funny. Mugatu is the fashion designer turned villain, and in this prison he has learned to use his feet like hands, which leads to several weird examples of such. More Mugatu – like more cowbell – might have been better than the Penelope-Cruz-as-sultry-spy schtick, but really anything goes in Zoolander Land, and that goes double for the story.

The bit with Zoolander’s son also rises, as Cyrus Arnold portrays Derek Jr. as a portly boy who is embarrassed to be associated with his Dad. He is a straight man to the clueless modeling world around him, including two wacky sequences where he seeks some knowledge about his mother, only to have Hanzel and Zoolander go into stories regarding their sexual exploits with her. He becomes the centerpiece of the mystery inside the plot, and is up to the task.

Will Ferrell
Mugatu (Will Ferrell) Breaks Out of Prison in ‘Zoolander 2’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

There was fear at the top of the film that is would be yet another lame sequel, as it takes a good twenty minutes or so to get going. But once it remembered what it was – a slightly bent foray into the world of fashion and its personalities – it was able to find it’s footing, much like Mugatu did in prison. Like the first film, it exploits what is most shallow in society, and that is always funny.

This is the good “early relationship” Valentine’s Day date film. Nothing to do but sit back and wallow in the silly. No need for discussions afterward about the deep, meaningful or symbolic applications in “Zoolander 2,’ except maybe the mechanics behind a man that can use his feet like hands.

“Zoolander 2” opens everywhere on February 12th. Featuring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Benedict Cumberbatch, Will Ferrell, Justin Theroux, Billy Zane and Sting. Written by Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Nicholas Stoller and John Hamburg.. Directed by Ben Stiller. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Writer, Editorial Coordinator
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2016 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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