Film review: Zoolander 2 – Ben Stiller returns to much-changed fashion world with safe sequel
After 15 years the catwalk’s favourite duo are back with more outrageous laughs and A-list cameos
Ben Stiller’s brain-dead fashion model is back 15 years after he made his feature debut. A rapid-fire prologue tells us that Derek Zoolander retired from public life after an accident he caused killed his wife Matilda, injured his best friend Hansel (Owen Wilson) and led to his son Derek Jnr being taken into care. But when fashion titan Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) requests Zoolander’s presence in Rome at her new show, he decides to reignite his career in the hope of reclaiming his son (Cyrus Arnold).
Directed by Stiller, the play-it-safe sequel panders to fans of the original – as it should. Characters, cameos, cues and catchphrases all return, as Zoolander reunites with Hansel on the catwalk, only to discover that the fashion world has moved on and been taken over by incoherent hipsters. There’s added intrigue with a plot to murder pop stars (Justin Bieber is gunned down in the opening scene), being investigated by Penélope Cruz’s agent from Interpol’s Global Fashion Division.
Is it funny? In truth, it’s not as amusing as its predecessor. Rather like the fashion industry, the jokes have largely been recycled. Some are overworked, notably Hansel getting a whole orgy, including Kiefer Sutherland, pregnant. Others simply fall flat, with Stiller unable to curb his habit of letting scenes linger – not least a car accident cut to Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, another inferior nod to the much brisker original.
Yet it’s always a pleasure to see Stiller and Wilson inhabit these characters, goofing off with guest stars that range from Sting to Marc Jacobs. The best laughs, however, come from a prosthetics-clad Wiig, mispronouncing her words though surgically-enhanced lips, and Will Ferrell, returning as Zoolander’s unhinged nemesis Mugatu. When he finally arrives, Mugatu steals the show – proving that outrageous laughs never go out of vogue.
Zoolander 2 opens on February 25