If you measure my love for a movie by how often I’ve quoted pithy and often irrelevant snippets of dialogue from it, then to this day Zoolander 1 comes second only to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
And that had three times as many movies each three times as long to make an impression!
I will quote Zoolander obsessively — no matter how many bodies I leave dead and buried along the way, just to make a name for myself as an investigative journalist, no matter how many bodies I leave dead and buried along the way.
So let’s fast-forward fifteen years. It’s 2016 and Zoolander 2 is coming out. I’m filled with high hopes and that sort of dogged optimism you get that a long-delayed sequel will somehow be as good as the original, at the same time knowing it probably won’t be. Imagine my surprise then, when amid little hype and universally tepid reviews, I really enjoyed it.
That’s right. Zoolander 2 has more than enough stupid and huge absurdities to be a worthy successor to the original film, even fifteen years later. Strangely, though, it doesn’t really share much in common with the original film, and nobody can accuse it of having a comprehensible plot.
Sure, the original elements are all there — Ben Stiller’s pleading puppy-dog face and mispronounced vocabulary; Owen Wilson’s new-age orgy-loving Hansel (who’s still so hot right now); and a story which turns fashion models into action-hero spies in ridiculous ways. But this movie felt random and disconnected, less a progression of Mugatu’s evil plan than a series of short improvised sketches with nods to the original. It reminded me somewhat of Family Guy back when it was good, though not nearly as gross.
This sketch-comedy vibe is reinforced by an overwhelming number of quite inexplicable cameos, even more than the first film. These include the mainstays of fashion you’d expect like Billy Zane, Tommy Hilfiger and Marc Jacobs, but also John Malkovich, Katy Perry, a truly bizarre and somewhat problematic performance by Benedict Cumberbatch and everyone’s favorite, Neil deGrasse Tyson. That’s right, international science superstar Neil deGrasse Tyson. In Zoolander. Now, I don’t remember what he did, but I’m pretty sure it involved saying: “I’m Neil deGrasse Tyson, bitch! That’s what I do!” This film is weird.
Writing this, I am still struggling to place my finger on why exactly I liked this film so much. I think it may have a lot to do with the fact that I’m just a big fan of Ben Stiller as an actor. His performance as the irredeemably silly and pathetic Derek Zoolander is one I still enjoy today, and while this film has lots of problems and would make zero sense if you haven’t seen the original, I still liked it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and get myself an orange mocha frappucino to cool down.