Zoolander 2 (2016, USA, d. Ben Stiller, 102 Minutes)
by Robert Joseph Butler
Ben Stiller’s Zoolander 2 is a complete waste of time and human effort. At times it feels like a bizarre and absurdist experiment of nostalgia from the 2001 comedy that has gained cult status over the years, other times it feels like another money grab.
In the film, characters Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) come out of exile after a tragic accident where they are left irrelevant in the modeling fashion industry. The film uses exposition of what happened after the first film, where Derek lost his wife (Christine Taylor) in a building collapse that echoes the terrorist attack of 9/11 where he lost his son Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold) to child services. We flash forward to 15 years later he goes on a journey to get his son back, and to recapture his relevance in the modeling industry. In the films opening, Justin Bieber is brutally gunned down by a machine gun where he takes one last selfie as he dies.
The film consists of a lot of endless celebrity cameos that are just frustrating, useless, and eye-rolling: John Malkovich is a serial killer wearing a Members Only jacket? Kiefer Sutherland gets pregnant? Willey Nelson is waitng for a orgy? Fred Armisen plays a midget, Kristen Wig is covered in make-up, Benedict Cumberbatch plays a transgender model, and Sting is a Catholic priest. It all feels messy, dated, and a decade late.
Ben Stiller rehashes a lot of humor about being dated, “What’s wi-fi?”, “I’m out of fashion”, are just tireless jokes that feel straight out of Austin Powers. Even when the film begins to get comical once Stiller hands things over to Will Ferrell, Ferrell ultimately feels like he is just doing outtakes from the first film. Every gag here feels desperate and ungainly. This is a reminder that “Zoolander 2” eventually becomes what its trying to absurdly satirize, a useless and unnecessary movie that is trying way too hard to become relevant again.