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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Zoolander 2” a lesson on why comedy sequels don’t work

    Red Hour Films
    Promotional still for Zoolander 2 released on Feb 12.

    Some sequels simply should not happen. In 2001, Ben Stiller directed and starred in “Zoolander,” a film about an idiotic male supermodel named Derek Zoolander who gets tangled up in a scandalous assassination scheme. The film gleefully satirized the fashion industry while providing plenty of witty one-liners and a slew of characters perfect for the following year’s Halloween costume.

    15 years later, Stiller has come out with “Zoolander 2” and managed to overdo everything that worked about the original film while creating a low point in the careers of all actors involved.

    Since the events of the first film, Zoolander’s project known as The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too has collapsed on itself, killing Zoolander’s wife and injuring fellow supermodel Hansel (Owen Wilson). Zoolander has also lost custody of his son Derek Zoolander Jr. and as a result of all this has chosen to live alone and become a “hermit crab” as he calls it.

    Eventually Zoolander is offered a fashion gig in Rome and takes it in the hopes of winning back custody of his son. While in Rome, he meets back up with Hansel and Interpol agent Valentina (Penélope Cruz) and enlists their help to uncover a plot to kill all the world’s most beautiful people. Oscar-worthy storyline? Not exactly.

    The opening scene consists of an assassin chasing Justin Bieber. The pop star has nowhere to run, and the assassin shoots him to death in one of the strangest and most uncomfortable scenes of the film. Bullet after bullet is lodged into his chest in an overly violent scene that is completely out of place in this movie.

    The original was famous for its celebrity cameos. In the sequel, celebrity cameos are used to the point of utter exhaustion. You can’t go more than a couple minutes without a random celebrity showing up to say something stupid and irrelevant to the plot. Kiefer Sutherland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Katy Perry, Billy Zane and Willie Nelson all show up for no apparent reason, along with an 11-year-old CGI version of Fred Armisen that is completely disturbing. Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson even makes an appearance, for no other reason than to exclaim “I’m Neil deGrasse Tyson, bitch!”

    Zoolander eventually finds his son at an orphanage in Rome, and is upset at the boy’s size. The exchange between Zoolander and Hansel about how fat Derek Jr. has become is one of the funniest parts of the movie, but when the son enters the picture, he makes every one of his scenes difficult to get through. Derek Jr.’s acting is terrible, and the father-son dynamic between him and Zoolander is equally bad.

    Other acting atrocities on display include “Saturday Night Live’s” Kyle Mooney as an unbelievably annoying fashion designer and Will Ferrell reprising his role as evil fashion guru Mugatu. Mugatu screams nonstop throughout the movie, giving audience members a headache and making them wonder where on earth Ferrell’s once great comedic talent has gone.

    Of course, the movie does have some laughs. When Ben Stiller flashes his legendary “Blue Steel” look, he completely transforms himself back into Derek Zoolander, and is still likable and funny in the role. The performances from Stiller, Owen Wilson and Cruz are the only real reasons to sit through this movie. The rest of the acting is poor, the writing weak and the whole thing too stupid to actually work.

    Ultimately, the Zoolander story is a one joke concept. It worked the first time, but now it’s nothing more than a mess of bad acting, terrible dialogue and random celebrity cameos.

    Alas, the film’s only saving grace is that — after all, it’s Zoolander. Stiller and company are definitely banking on the “so stupid it’s funny” concept seen in films such as “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” This concept can be successful if executed correctly, but it was not done well here.

    “Zoolander 2” is a perfect example of a sequel that is trying to milk the success of the first one for all its worth. Dedicated fans of the original should still see it, partially for nostalgia’s sake and for the very few laughs the film does have. If you didn’t like the first one, this sequel will only give you a reason to hate Derek Zoolander even more.

    Grade: D+

    Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter.

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