When it comes to comedy sequels, they rarely, if ever, surpass the original. One simply cannot reinvent the wheel, one can merely add a few new jokes and some colorful characters to it. Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to Zoolander No. 2, a sequel that took 15 years to make. Paramount Pictures and writer/director/producer and star Ben Stiller seriously couldn’t come up with a better followup to the adventures of a dimwitted male model which was a very clever satire on the fashion world. 15 years and they came up with a slightly amusing yet contrived and forced spy adventure with plenty of broad humor and corny zingers. Sure, it works (here and there) but the only saving graces are the interactions between some of the characters, most notably scenes with Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, two seasoned comedians and former SNL cast mates. The moments between Stiller and Owen Wilson are okay but it just feels like we’ve gone down this runway before.
The plot revolves around inept male model Derek Zoolander, who has gone into seclusion after a tragic accident that took the life of his wife. Derek’s services are eventually called upon when someone is mysteriously killing off all of the good-looking people of the world, starting with Justin Bieber. Fashion Interpol agent Valentina Valencia (Penelope Cruz) partners up with Derek and Hansel (Owen Wilson) as they go on a mission to Rome to expose a sinister plot and those responsible for offing the hottest looking celebrities on the planet. Along the way, Derek attempts to reconnect with his estranged son but this subplot is just awkward and poorly executed.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie as dumb as Zoolander No. 2. Sure, it’s stupid but there are some aspects that work. The main aspect being the mere fact that Stiller and company are back reprising their roles and playing off of one another in such a silly manner. Having said that, the script is really juvenile and many of the jokes just fall flat. It’s nice to see Stiller and Wilson team up after a few years and assembling the frat pack once more. Ferrell reprises his villainous role of Mugato and the addition of Wiig’s new fashion queen Alexanya Atoz is probably one of the film’s more redeeming qualities. There are also bit parts for current SNL cast member Kyle Mooney, who plays an eccentric fashion designer. Fred Armisen appears in a bizarre CGI-modified child valet, and Benedict Cumberbatch shows up as a transgender model who steals the show every time he appears.
With the above mentioned cast, one can expect comedy greatness erupting out of the production but the fact is, you can’t just stuff a bunch of well-known actors in a film and expect great things. You need a strong script to unite all of these actors. There is even a larger amount of other celebrities who pop up in cameos, all in the attempt to evoke a cheap laugh. If this movie had come out five or maybe even eight years ago, then maybe things would have gone better, maybe. The character of Zoolander is pretty stale now and while many still remember the first film as a fun and ridiculous action-comedy, this followup falls pretty short.