In 2001, Zoolander had the misfortunate theatrical release about two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, causing movie-goers to withdraw their appetite for comedy and avoid the theatre. Blue Magnum had to wait for DVDs to circulate before it became a standard photo pose for the everyday, ridiculously good-looking man.
When I viewed the sequel, Zoolander 2, the empty theatre that accommodated me patently signaled the lack of motivation from the solid fanbase that made Zoolander a mainstream classic in the early ’00s. Ben Stiller (director/writer/Derek Zoolander) perceptively told reporters that fans want a sequel until they get one. The low turnout for the film validates Stiller’s comment. Yet Zoolander 2 has a lot to offer the committed fans that are ready to devalue their expectations.
Set in the present, as current as Justin Bieber’s new haircut, Derek Zoolander discontinues his retirement from modeling to follow an opportunity in the high fashion industry that may reunite him with his son. Will Ferrell returns in full costume as Jacobim Mugatu. He masterminds an escape from prison with the unwitting help from the senior and junior Zoolanders’ and, once again, attempts to monopolize the world of fashion.
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You get a sense that Stiller wants to repay his loyal fans by offloading an excess of classic Zoolander humour. The comic parts often hit high, but a lot of the product is flat—trying to shock viewers with a full tongue kiss is awkward, and not amusing. The film makes use of the same formula as the original, and contains unexpected cameos. Where David Bowie had a stellar scene in the first Zoolander, the latter has Neil deGrasse Tyson to balance the film’s fabric of intellect with his usual jargon of the cosmos. It is funny, though.
If Zoolander was in your childhood experience, I urge you to fill the empty screenings of the sequel. Behind the veneer of irrelevant storytelling, the movie is a Hansel and Derek story, which is as charming a relationship as ever. If Zoolander wasn’t in your childhood experience, however, watch the original. It should be in your movie lexicon in any case, and then you can decide whether the sequel will induce enough laughs for your time.