Film Review: Zoolander 2

Zoolander 2 poster

Zoolander 2 Plot Summary:

Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) return as male models so Derek can reconnect with his estranged son (Cyrus Arnold), but they end up as pawns in a greater conspiracy involving the world of fashion.

There was a time when the original Zoolander became ingrained in our culture on the level of Austin Powers or Napoleon Dynamite, where it seemed like people were quoting “snap” or “Eugoogly” on a daily basis. While Zoolander definitely still holds up, the appetite for a sequel started to wan. We’ve been hearing about this movie more than Guillermo del Toro’s Hobbit trilogy for crying out loud. When the first teaser trailer popped up out of no where, we all took notice. With so much time passing though, it was important for this movie to be great in order for us to get excited about something that was a mere comedic trend at the time. Is Zoolander 2 that great sequel? Yeah, not even close. I was rooting for this, but it’s just not funny. There’s definitely a heart-felt effort from the actors, but most of these jokes crash and burn in blazing fashion. Let’s get into this now, because I’m fairly certain Zoolander 3 won’t be happening anytime soon.

Zoolander 2 pic 1

The warning signs were clear early on. We open with that Justin Bieber scene we’ve seen in all the trailers. The movie thinks it can be hilarious just by having Justin Beiber run around like an idiot, but the mere presence of the Biebs isn’t that funny. You still have to write something. After the shameless cameo, the next ten minutes are actually kind of promising. Both Zoolander and Hansel are in seclusion. This is a funny idea, and while mildly amusing, there were warning scenes here as well. They could have done so much more with this. As the film goes on, the ideas become less promising, and more importantly, horribly unfunny. I just wasn’t laughing.

Zoolander 2 commits one of the biggest sins a sequel can commit – the need to go bigger. Sigh. They took subtle moments from the first Zoolander that got huge laughs, and blew them way out of proportion here. Classic sequelitis. For example, we all love the “Who Am I?” puddle moment from the original, correct? In Zoolander 2, this concept is abused to the point where I now hate that joke from the first movie. It’s embarrassing. Remember that clever idea in the first film when David Duchovny reveals male models were responsible for political killings? Pretty funny, right? They try and do something like this again, but it’s completely off the wall and trying way too hard. The first Zoolander was zany and ridiculous, sure, but they always kept one foot in reality. In this movie, both feet are firmly planted in bonkers land. And just like with any comedy sequel, they try and repeat famous jokes from the first film. This can definitely work, but it goes horribly wrong here, aside from one clever take on the “Earth to [fill in the blank]” dialogue scene.

Zoolander 2 pic 2

I mentioned before that the actors are trying their best, and they are. Ben Stiller picks up right where he left off, and can certainly make you chuckle here and there. Will Ferrell is still funny as Mugatu, but he comes in way too late for me to care anymore. Although, his fashion prison did provide some of the best jokes. Kristen Wiig gives one of the better performances as this odd fashion icon, ala Milla Jovovich from the first movie. She could have been so much more though, just like everything else in this movie. Penelope Cruz is completely forgettable, and is there just to look gorgeous. At least with Christine Taylor in the original, they wrote something for her. I was disappointed with Owen Wilson to some extent, but it’s mostly because his storyline is completely absurd and cartoon-ish. Everything involving his character was just stupid. There’s a crap load of cameos, obviously. Some work, some don’t. There’s one character in particular who annoyed the matza out of me. Kyle Mooney plays Don Atari, a high end fashion designer. He’s basically a terrible, unfunny version of the drugged out animal control guys from Parks and Rec. Awful.

I got one true gut laugh from this movie. That’s bad in any comedy, but when you’re the sequel to a really funny movie, it’s exasperated even more. There’s some decent ideas here, but the script is painfully lazy and thinks it can coast on just bringing back a beloved character. When your movie is unfunny and the jokes aren’t working, a lot of the humor can come off as mean spirited. The first movie took shots at fat people, but they were funny. This movie does the same, but the jokes aren’t very good, so it leaves you groaning. This isn’t Caddyshack 2 level, but it is in the Hangover Part II range of poor comedic sequels. The fact I had to invoke The Hangover Part II tells you everything you need to know about wanting to see this.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (Barely Passable Entertainment)

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Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.