Following in the footsteps of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, another comedy sequel released many years after its zany, beloved original, Zoolander 2 arrives fifteen years after the first film — which, unfortunately, is about thirteen years too late. But if you can get past the film's questionable reasons for existing, there are a handful of laughs to be had in this idiotic farce.
Co-Writer/Director: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell
In Anchorman 2, you can sense director Adam McKay trying to take down the absurdity of the real-life 24 hour news cycle under all of the jokes and insanity on screen. Zoolander 2 doesn't have any larger point it's trying to achieve. It's as brainless as its title character, and here's the thing: that would be fine if the movie was really funny all the way through. I'm cool with movies being made for the sole purpose of making the audience laugh. I enjoy engaging with a movie's themes, but it's not always a requirement, especially in a film that embraces blatant stupidity of its premise as much as this one. But Zoolander 2 spends much of its run time sputtering through recycled jokes from the first film, or making new ones that I didn't find very amusing. Obviously, your mileage may vary in this area — comedy is a very personal thing, and what didn't make me laugh might have you cracking up.
The plot is too tangled to explain succinctly, and doing so would remove some of the small amount of fun the movie offers, so I'll just talk about what I thought worked and didn't work. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are back as Derek Zoolander and Hansel, and they fall right back into character like they never left. The individual jokes aren't always great (or even good), but these two characters are still fun to spend some time with, and they're joined here by an Interpol Fashion Department officer (and former swimsuit model) played by Penelope Cruz, who admirably commits to her role and fits in pretty well with these endearing morons. Will Ferrell returns as the evil Mugatu and gives the movie a much-needed jolt of comedy, leaving me wishing that he was in the film more.
But essentially everything else ranges from passable to eye-rolling, with new cast additions Kristen Wiig and Kyle Mooney holding their own (passable) while Zoolander tries to bond with his estranged fat son (ugh) and Hansel figures out his own daddy issues as they plod toward the film's ludicrous conclusion. There is a litany of unnecessary celebrity cameos that eventually becomes numbing (sorry, Kiefer Sutherland), and the script feels like the result of years worth of fake drafts being combined after a surprise greenlight as they rushed to meet production deadlines (no idea if this is how it actually went down...it just feels that way).
Judging by the horrible reviews the movie has already received from a lot of my colleagues, I liked it more than they did. But even as someone who kind of liked the movie, I can't recommend spending time watching this. My only hope is that, like the original, Zoolander 2 somehow gets funnier upon multiple viewings.