**** out of 5
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong lanaguage
Article first published at TheReelPlace.com
Love it or hate it, the original Zoolander is a bona fide comedy cult classic. And now, after 15 years of development, Zoolander 2 is here for us to behold in all its wacky glory. The first film actually opened to a tiny bit of controversy — this one has already seen its fair share — some people were appalled that a wide Hollywood release would focus its plot on a conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia in an effort to keep child labor laws in the fashion industry’s favor. Even Roger Ebert (RIP) maligned it as another excuse why the rest of the world hates America, missing out on the absurdity of the entire premise. Yet, here we are, 15 years later, and Ben Stiller returns to one of his most beloved/hated characters in a sequel that some will find does not live up to expectations.
Beginning in Rome, Justin Bieber has been whacked outside of a safehouse. Bieber’s death is just the latest in a string of celebrity murders who have all died with the same look on their face. Now, the Interpol Fashion Police are hot on the case with Valentina (Penelope Cruz) on the hunt for Derek Zoolander (Stiller) who may hold the key to who’s behind the assassinations. Living life as a reclusive hermit crab, Derek is brought out of hiding after receiving a mysterious invitation to be the star of Alexanya Atoz’s “IncrediBall” — along with his Netflix discs, delivered by none other than Billy Zane himself!
Meanwhile, Hansel (Owen Wilson) has also been invited and the two of them must settle their differences after the collapse of the “Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good” caused the death of Matilda (Christine Taylor) and left Hansel permanently disfigured. Now, Derek, Hansel, and Valentina, must find out who’s behind the slaughter of the really really really ridiculously good looking celebrities, all while Derek is also trying to prove himself a functioning member of society to win back his estranged son, Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold), and get over the fact that his son has grown up to be plus-sized.
Anyone who takes these movies seriously for even a second shouldn’t even try. This is, and always was, check your brain at the door entertainment of the highest order and never pretends to be anything more than that. Yes, there is an over reliance on recycled jokes — but the jokes are still hilarious as ever. The wordplay may not be quite as clever, and there are a few stretches where there aren’t even any real jokes on hand. If you’re a fan of the first, you should love what Stiller — along with co-writers Justin Theroux (reprising his Evil DJ role), John Hamburg, and Nicholas Stoller — have managed to deliver. Especially when you consider that the first film should be past its expiration date.
Thankfully, there is a lot to love in Zoolander 2. The plot is more of a giallo this time around and the celebrity cameos are as funny as ever. While you may wince over Katy Perry, she’s followed up with the funniest Neil deGrasse Tyson cameo ever. Kristen Wiig may feel shortchanged — it’s always hilarious to see her and Will Ferrell on screen together — but even Mugatu only shows up in the finale. Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney is almost a nuisance as a hipster fashion designer. And while some have already balked at the Benedict Cumberbatch character “All,” what they’ve seen is, of course, out of context. Characters like his are meant to show how out of touch the other characters really are, All hermself is never the err… butt of the joke.
The good news is that Zoolander is back and as funny as ever in a sequel that was worth the wait. This is one film that is really really really ridiculously entertaining.