Despite being excited about the prospect of Zoolander 2, we’ve ended up being pretty disappointed in it’s woeful attempts to follow up on the genius comedy might of its 2001 predecessor. So much so, in fact, that we’d even go so far as to say that it’s the worst sequel since The Hangover Part II. It’s not entirely without its redeeming features, but they’re just not good enough to result in anything other than a feeling of deflated disappointment by the time you leave the cinema.
The biggest problem is that it’s just not that funny, but the most annoying part of this is that the film was more about advertising than it was about making you laugh. The amount of product placement is ridiculous, and while this is masked by an attempt to raise a smile the fact that it falls flat at every turn makes it look all the more like a sell out.
The story is overly convoluted, which takes the film away from its simpleton comedy roots. The return of Hansel and Derek is mired in a daft The Da Vinci Code parody, which just doesn’t work very well as the framework for the film. Adam and Eve and Steve – the male model third leg in the garden of Eden – may have sounded pretty funny on paper, but it destroys the idea of the two runway idiots in the real world and replaces it with idiots in an idiotically idiot world of idiots, which is just a bit lame.
Add to that the fact that a lot of the jokes just aren’t that funny and the onscreen chemistry between Ben Stiller (Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb) and Owen Wilson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) feels a bit stilted and what you’re left with is, to quote Paul Daniels, not a lot. It seems like more time has been spent on trying to come up with a really, really, ridiculously overblown story to justify the sequel and getting the product placements to bring in the dineros than getting the comedy right.
There are a few things that work, though, including the Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) cameo as the androgynous supermodel, All, but there’s nothing more from him in the film that you can’t see in the trailer. A comedy film rests on its ability to make audiences laugh, but in the cinema watching Zoolander 2 there was just an awkward quiet as joke after joke fails to make a dent and when something funny finally does come around that wasn’t in the trailer you’re not sure you’re supposed to laugh because of the extended period of silence you’ve sat through. It was borderline eerie.
One of the main offenders was the introduction of hipster model Don Atari, played by Kyle Moody, who gets a lot of air time without there being much in the way of anything to laugh at. We’re as much in favour of hipster bashing as the next person, but it was old, tired and boring. However, on a positive new addition note, Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters) is freakish as Alexanya Atoz, getting some good laughs with her bizarre facial features, crazy accent and over-the-top fashion sense.
Sadly, Will Ferrell (Daddy’s Home) doesn’t really have too many moments of brilliance, but his mistreatment of his personal assistant Todd and Don Atari are probably his best. Penélope Cruz (To Rome With Love) is pretty effective when she’s being serious – or sexy wrestling with Milla Jovovich – but less so when she’s given more ridiculous scenes. Her swimming prowess is the low point of the film, irrespective of it providing Ben Stiller with a chance to touch her boobs. It could have been a funny scene, but again the perceived need to make things bigger and more outlandish ruins its ability to connect with the audience.
The cameos are a mixed bag, with some working well and others leaving you questioning their presence entirely. It’s good to see Billy Zane back in the mix and the Susan Boyle gag works well enough. Surprisingly, Justin Bieber wasn’t a shocker and John Malkovich’s appearance is one of the rare moments of genius in the film. However, Katy Perry’s short scene is completely hollow, which is either a veiled joke they were playing on her or just randomly vapid, but either way it’s surplus to requirements.
What this results in is a film that you can rant about for hours if you wanted to with little in the way of redesming features. Zoolander 2 is without doubt the biggest letdown of the year and a real disappointment because it had so much potential. If you’ve seen and loved the original, you might want to give this a miss if you want to retain the memory of the once great comedy vehicle.
Zoolander 2 review: 2/5