Magazine article Variety

Zoolander 2

Magazine article Variety

Zoolander 2

Article excerpt

FILM REVIEW

Zoolander 2

DIRECTOR: Ben Stiller

STARRING: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig

It may have been a really, really, ridiculously good-looking idea on paper, but Ben Stiller's attempt to bring back one of his more beloved creations feels like a cheap designer knockoff in "Zoolander 2." Falling well below the standards of "Anchorman 2" (2014) in the long-delayedsequel sweepstakes, this flailing followup drags the endearingly dim-witted Derek Zoolander out of retirement for an extended Roman holiday, backed by a parade of real-life celebrities and fashionworld denizens who are now very much in on the joke. If only that joke weren't so far past its sell-by date: The results may delight those who believe recycled gags and endless cameos to be the very essence of great comedy, but everyone else will likely recognize Stiller's wannabe Magnum opus as a disappointment-slashmisfire, the orange mocha crappuccino of movie sequels.

Paramount's extravagantly marketed Feb. 12 release should nonetheless overtake the original "Zoolander's" $60 million domestic haul, capitalizing on the now-widespread love for a movie that didn't really hit its stride, culturally and commercially, until it entered the home-viewing market. Bowing mere weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, Stiller's movie provided some welcome distraction from a national trauma, even if a plot twist involving an assassination attempt on the Malaysian prime minister struck some as unforgivably tasteless.

There's more tiresome international intrigue afoot in "Zoolander 2," which kicks off with Justin Bieber being chased, cornered and machine-gunned to death. Before he succumbs, the bullet-riddled pop star manages to post one last selfie on Instagram, his features frozen in what appears to be Derek Zoolander's famous brow-furrowed, pouty-lipped Blue Steel look (the impossibility of distinguishing among all these near-identical poses remains a key running gag).

Unfortunately, no one has seen Zoolander in years. As we learn in a lengthy catch-up sequence, he's been separated from his love interest, Matilda (Christine Taylor, blink and you miss her), and from their young son, Derek Jr., and is now huddling alone in a cabin like the world's best-coiffed mountain man. Meanwhile, his estranged friend and ex-rival, Hansel (Owen Wilson), quit modeling after being disfigured in a freak accident, and now spends his days in the parched dunes (of Malibu).

And so it's up to Billy Zane (once again playing himself) to track down these two feuding former Fabios and drag them back into the world of high fashion - specifically, to Rome, where they're welcomed into the enclave of a vaguely sinister, Donatella Versace-esque fashion empress named Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig, all trout lips and tortured vowels). Alexanya's lavish, structurally precarious outfits represent by far the most outlandish of Leesa Evan's cheeky costume designs, though for sheer style, it's hard to beat the form-fitting crimson jumpsuit worn by Valentina Valencia (Penelope Cruz), a special agent with Interpol's Global Fashion Division who's trying to find out who's killing off Bieber, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Lenny Kravitz and the world's other most beautiful people.

If that already sounds too plotty by half, we haven't even gotten to the inevitable return of Zoolander's clownhaired old nemesis, Mugatu (Will Ferrell, energetically nasty as ever), or the "Da Vinci Code'-style legend of a secret bloodline that may hold the key to eternal youth. …

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