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Review: Zoolander 2 – “A tragically unfunny cameo factory”

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Ben Stiller returns to again co-write, star and direct the sequel to 2001’s Zoolander. Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell are also back, alongside new additions Penélope Cruz and Kristen Wiig, and a hundred catwalks worth of all-star cameos in Zoolander 2.

Fifteen years after the finale of the first Zoolander film, we find Derek (Stiller) in self-exile following a fateful accident at his Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good; and Hansel (Wilson) (so hot right now) hiding out in the desert with a harem. Derek has had his son taken away by child services, while Hansel has just discovered that he is to be a father to every member of his orgy group, and dual visits from their mutual friend Billy Zane inspire the boys to find themselves and prove that they have what it takes to be fathers.

The pair have fallen off the fashion world map, and a visit to Rome to rekindle their modelling careers reveals that they are now not just stupid – but also completely left behind in terms of technology and the current popular fashion set. While in Italy though they meet a fashion cop (Cruz) who promises to help locate Derek’s estranged son in return for their consultation on a case involving pop stars dying while pulling Derek’s famous “Blue Steel” face.

As out of the touch as the boys themselves, the majority of Zoolander 2’s jokes fall absolutely flat, with only two or three actually hitting the mark and getting a laugh, instead of just rattling around in polite silence. The lack of actual humour is not the only problem with Zoolander 2’s comedy: there are also many embarrassing and insulting gags regarding transphobia, body shaming, and even a miscarriage.

The plot is also a complete nonsense, that even ends up being revealed as a sham, meaning that everyone on screen and in the audience has just wasted their time. Kristen Wiig’s Donatella Versace-a-like character, “Atoz”, is a saving grace. A tanned leather walking facelift, and always bedecked in head-to-toe crazy couture, Atoz’s every word is daftly completely mangled, making her as amusing as she is almost unrecognisable.

The film is presented like an action blockbuster, which distracts for a while, but can only go so far to cover the lazy, stagnant mess beneath. The conveyor belt of celebrity cameos from the worlds of fashion, TV, film and music are frequent and of a surprisingly high calibre – again fleetingly holding the interest – but, again, cannot disguise Zoolander 2’s vacuous un-amusing hollowness.

A recent re-watch proved that the first Zoolander still holds up, but unlike it’s late-coming cash-in sequel, that is because it has a plot and jokes. Zoolander 2 is a tragically unfunny cameo factory with more cringes than laughs.

2-out-of-5

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