In a time where movie studios are all about acquiring the next big movie franchise, it is incredible to think it has taken so long to release the inevitable sequel to the cult classic Zoolander. However, after fifteen long years the moment is finally here and actor Ben Stiller hasn't aged a day. This is quite a paradox, especially considering how far society has come in that time. The movie plays heavily on this fact, taking queues from what worked so well in films such as Austin Powers, by taking an icon from a previous era and placing them in another decade where they are essentially irrelevant. From here the premise is built in. How does the protagonist become relevant again in a society that no longer cares? This is essentially the plot to Zoolander No. 2, taking advantage of all the comedic consequences on the way.
In essence Derek Zoolander, played by Ben Stiller, has become a recluse due to some tragic events that have occurred following the previous film. However he is forced out of his obscurity when he is offered a fashion gig in Rome, which he is told will be the key to solving all his domestic problems. This all coincides with a villainous plot to kill all the modern day pop culture "icons", which is evidenced to hilarious effect in the first five minutes of the film.
The movie immediately brings audiences up to speed with what has happened in the previous fifteen years, with a device that is as hilarious as it is ingenious. In what plays out like a greatest hits news reel, the montage documents all the idiotic decisions male supermodels Zoolander and Hansel have made since the last film. Modern day media personalities and news anchors provide all the coverage, featuring a plethora of cameos that have to be seen to be believed.
Unlike its predecessor, Zoolander 2 not only takes a dig at the fashion world but also pokes fun at social media and pop culture in its entirety. The majority of the quips are quite effective, not to mention incredibly amusing and highly entertaining. There is an occasional cringe worthy moment here and there, but amazingly far less than the original. If anything the sequel is perhaps even more enjoyable to watch, as long as audiences don't take the plot too seriously, especially considering the premise is incredibly ridiculous.
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson both return to reprise their roles as male supermodels Derek Zoolander and Hansel respectively. As a comic duo, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson really hit the mark. So much so, that they are really missed when they are not on screen. Great comic timing is essential in fantastic comedies, and the pair have it in spades.
Where the movie does fall is with the introduction of some of the new characters. On paper the addition of Kristen Wiig appeared to be quite promising. However, her role is ultimately inconsequential. Wiig plays what can only be described as an overly plasticised version of Donatella Versace, known as Alexanya Atoz. Her performance is funny to a point, but her screen time is incredibly brief. It has to be said that her casting was a logical choice, especially considering her chemistry with Ben Stiller in his last directorial venture The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Although this time out her performance unfortunately doesn't improve the film.
The addition of Penelope Cruz provides the key female role in the film. Cruz plays Valentina, an extremely fashionable Interpol agent who is investigating the recent celebrity killings. She eventually teams up with Zoolander and Hansel to take advantage of their "knowledge" of the fashion world. In essence her role is to play the straight character to provide balance to the comedy provided by Zoolander's incredible stupidity. While incredibly beautiful, her performance is essentially one note, which in fairness may be intentional. However, playing alongside Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, she becomes lost in the hilarity and ridiculousness. In these moments she feels the need to keep up with them, which is unnecessary. In short, it is not one of her more memorable roles.
Fan favourite Will Ferrell also makes a most welcome return to the franchise, reprising his role as the formidable Mugatu. He has been incarcerated since the previous film due to his crimes, but he remains Zoolander's greatest nemesis. In the original film Ferrell provides arguably the stand out performance, having some of the key comedic moments. However, this time around he appears more stale and perhaps lacks that comedic timing that is usually expected of him. In a comedy featuring Will Ferrell, you expect the laughs to be coming from his direction. This time around his gags are more cringe worthy and less eloquent, with the vast majority of laughs come from Stiller and Wilson.
Zoolander 2 also has a plethora of cameos, some of which are better than others. The majority feel incredibly natural and authentic, and as a result work incredibly well. Others such as Justin Bieber's cameo feel incredibly forced, much like a product placement. As a result they are less effective. Don't be surprised to hear cheers in your cinema when the time comes for Justin Bieber's inevitable conclusion, which was evidenced at the world premiere. It is also a most admirable effort by Ben Stiller from the directors chair. He doesn't take himself too seriously, and much like his previous directorial effort The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the film has heart. Just be prepared for the film to be utterly ridiculous, which is to be expected from a movie branded with the Zoolander title.
In short, Zoolander 2 is a highly amusing film and audiences are guaranteed to laugh out loud. This is a rare treat, especially in contrast to the mosaic of incredibly average and cynical comedies that are currently released by Hollywood studios. Audiences will need to pay close attention, because the one liners come thick and fast. If viewers happen to miss any of the witty dialogue or perhaps don't find the blatant mockery of pop culture and their icons that humourous, then they are sure to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. As an audience member, if you are up for a laugh, then this one is for you.
If you haven't been keeping up with Zoolander's Instagram profile, then treat yourself. It is utterly hilarious. The marketing for the film has only been second to Deadpool, which is also coincidentally due for release on the same day, February 11th.