I can’t remember when I saw the original Zoolander – whether it was in the movie theater or at home on DVD – but I do remember how hard and fast the funny hit me. The cameos were spot on, the humor was more tongue-in-cheek than you’d first think, and the performances were great. Zoolander became, and still is, one of my family’s all-time favorite movies, because, if you find it funny the first time, you’ll find it funny every time.
Sequels are hard, though, and a sequel coming 15 years after the original is even harder. So, the question is – is this cameo-laden sequel worth your time? And the related question is – if you haven’t seen the original Zoolander, does that mean you should avoid this movie?
We’ll take the second question first. While many of the cameos will be more funny if you’ve seen the first one, Zoolander 2 does a great job of catching you up on what went on before and what happened pretty much right after the ending credits of the first movie. You don’t need to know anything about the first movie in order to enjoy and follow this one.
And for the first question? As far as I’m concerned, not only was it worth my time but I’m going to see it again.
Zoolander 2 picks up 15 years later with an extended cameo by an actor I adore (which would be a spoiler if I told you who it was, so I won’t) that sets the plot into motion. Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) – the two top male supermodels in the world in the last outing – have gone into their own particular forms of seclusion due to a terrible tragedy. They both feel they’ve lost everything. Meanwhile, the villains from the first movie, particularly Mugatu (Will Ferrell), are serving their sentences or they’ve disappeared. Or so we think.
Zoolander and Hansel end up in Rome, trying to foil a variety of plots all centered around The Chosen One, with enemies new and old causing havoc, but not nearly as much havoc as their families, loved ones, and new allies are causing. Along the way, fashion is again mocked, as are all things hipster, many things pop culture especially pop stars, every spy movie ever made, and rightwing propaganda.
The original Zoolander “exposed” the evil being done in the world as an ages-old plot by the fashion industry using male models as their hitmen and fall guys to ensure favorable trade status for fashion. But it focused more on showing us the “world of male models” and dealt with Derek Zoolander’s search for himself. One of the things that Zoolander 2 does is move the spy thriller elements of the first movie up to the main plotline of this one. So, you’re watching a spy movie where the James Bond characters are pretty much idiots, who manage to succeed in spite of themselves. Which is, if you’re in on the joke, pretty damned hilarious.
But that’s the joke in Zoolander anyway – that we give far too much power and influence to pretty morons and pay almost no attention to the man behind the curtain. That we say that anyone is really, really, really, really ridiculously good looking if we’re TOLD that they’re good looking. As Mugatu points out over and over again, these people are idiots.
There’s also an inherent sweetness to Zoolander – both the movies and the character. He’s vain, he’s stupid, and he’s selfish, but he truly wants to do the right thing, and truly wants to take care of the people that he loves.
Just as with the first movie, Zoolander 2 won’t be for everyone. But the laughs are pretty much nonstop and, if you enjoyed the first movie, you’ll enjoy this one, too. If you never saw the first one, you’re safe to try this one. If you hated the first one, you probably won’t enjoy this one either, because it’s still the same creative team and tone.
But for those who loved the first Zoolander and have been patiently waiting for a sequel, we’ve been rewarded. This is Zoolander’s Magnum Opus, and all we really, really, really, really ridiculously good-looking people need to go see it.
Rating: 5 Stars