Man, and we thought Anchorman 2 was disappointing…
The theory makes sense, right? Like Anchorman, the first ‘Zoolander’ film came from a pretty unique place. Both films were comedies that received average reviews and sub-par box office performance when releases. Then, over time, as Ferrell and Stiller got more famous, the films both got huge cult followings. In 2013, an Anchorman 2 film was released, a sequel to one of Will Ferrell’s best comedies. Although merely an average film, it did well monetarily because of a decent marketing campaign and a desire for a revisit to that world.
Zoolander 2 does not come from quite the same place.
Although the original’s narrative can be put parallel to Anchorman, it’s hard to argue that the desire for a sequel was the same. Sometimes, there’s more to say in the world that the film takes place in. There was no more story left in Zoolander, and although the market seemed ripe after the success of the Anchorman sequel, there was no way that the audience wanted a watered-down sequel to the high-fashion satire.
In this one, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) has lost custody of his child, Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold) and moved to Extreme Northern New Jersey to live as ‘a hermit crab.’ Disgraced and out of fashion, him and his best friend Hansel (Owen Wilson) haven’t spoken since the day Zoolander’s academy for “kids who want to learn to read good” crashed, killing Zoolander’s wife. The accident also harmed Hansel, who now lives with a large Egyptian family headed by Kiefer Southerland. When Zoolander becomes inspired to win his son back and re-enter fashion (along with Hansel), he becomes part of the larger plot that is being carried out by Mugatu (Will Ferrell) an incarcerated fashion icon who is trying to rid the world of beautiful people. Maybe if Zoolander can team up with fashion security agency Interpol and their top agent (Penelope Cruz), he can win his son back. Plenty of comedians, such as Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Fred Armison, Kristen Wiig, and others appear in supporting roles.
Truthfully, I didn’t even care for the first Zoolander that much, anyway. Sadly, this tired sequel is much worse. It’s the type of film that you check your phone or watch multiple times hoping that the end is near, only to realize that there’s another 45 minutes left. It’s an endurance test of a film, refusing to make the audience laugh, and taking away any charm that may have existed in the original. It becomes so plot driven that Zoolander stops saying his insanely idiotic dialogue, drowning the movie in its own dour tone. There’s no spot where we can marvel at his stupidity and laugh at being whisked to such an absurdists’ world.
This movie paints the scenery or costumes as the jokes, as it’s unable to tell a real joke or use Zoolander’s dialogue to its benefit. It treats characters or situations themselves as walking jokes without anything actually being funny, so when they introduce an older character the film is screaming “Please laugh, this was funny when you first saw them,” when its not. There can’t be a gag without a real gag. It’s hard to explain in a review, but its as if they had the framework for a comedy without any of the possible substance that would make it work.
Will Ferrell appears at about the hour mark into the movie, kickstarting the third act, and he does almost save it. All three (or so) laughs that I got from the film were from his character, and its obvious that he’s having a fun time taking on this persona and acting like a complete insane person. I give this movie a star instead of a half a star (my lowest score) because of what Ferrell does in the small screen time he has here. He still has it, and I know people didn’t like Daddy’s Home, I mean, I didn’t that much either, but anything with Ferrell will inspire at least a few laughs. For Stiller, the director of this movie, his talent as a director has finally topped out, where after The Cable Guy, Reality Bites, Tropic Thunder, and even the underrated Secret Life of Walter Mitty he demonstrated promise. Instead, he shows a watered down sequel its path to drowning forever.