Welcome to Land of The Nerds, where I, Douglas Laman, use my love of cinema to explore, review and talk about every genre of film imaginable!
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Zoolander 2 Review
Let's say you're making a comedy film, but not just any sort of cinematic yukfest, no no no. You've got a cast at your ready disposal containing legendary comedians like Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell. Oh, and it's a continuation of Zoolander, one exceptionally funny motion picture. With all of those humorous tools in your arsenal, you'd think the results of such a collaboration would result in something even ever so slightly funny. But no. All we get are endless jokes about how fat the son of Zoolander is. That's the level of creativity Zoolander 2 populates, the area where fat jokes are considered the height of innovation and novelty.
Picking up fifteen years after the first Zoolander, male model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) has exiled himself after the death of his wife, Matilda (because it wouldn't be a live-action comedy sequel if the main female character from the first one wasn't abruptly ditched entirely) and his son, Derek Zoolander Jr. (Cyrus Arnold) being taken away from him. A chance to model again, an opportunity that Derek hopes will lead to him getting his son back, leads him to reunite with his former best pal, Hansel (Owen Wilson) and he also finds himself soon swept up in a spy mission of sorts involving the death of numerous pop stars with Interpol agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz).
There's a lot of ground to cover, plot-wise, in Zoolander 2, and the various plot threads very rarely mingle well with each other, coming across as individual mini-Zoolander tales instead of being a part of a larger cohesive narrative. Very little of these various stories are overtly amusing, which just makes the scattered feeling of the entire production feel all the more grating. To boot, Zoolander 2 makes the critical mistake of dabbling too much in reality instead of the more farcical nature of the first film. This movie treats Zoolander's pursuit of his son with 100% sincerity, but the dim-witted individual is clearly so ill-suited to being a parent, it's impossible to get wrapped up in this plotline that the feature desperately hopes the viewer will be absorbed in. More absurdist stuff like the gasoline fight from the first film please, less of this melodramatic crap that does nothing but drag out the overlong running time even further.
Many of the actors found in Zoolander 2 (most returning from the first film) feel more tired than anything else, with Stiller lacking the zip and pop that made his intellectually lacking creation so endearing last time. Wilson seems dazed for much of it, as if his mind is on whether or not he can get Marmaduke 2: Raise The Woof made rather than the film he's acting in right now. Poor Penelope Cruz finds herself with little to do besides bare her cleavage and fall for the protagonist. The only one who finds real consistent success is Will Ferrell as Mugatu, his bewilderment at the stupidity of Derek Zoolander fully and humorously intact and his manic performance driving home some of the films few successfully hilarious moments (the way he carries around his now deceased dog from the first Zoolander is morbidly jocular).
Instead of concentrating on making sure the performances or script were air-tight, it appears more effort has been given into stuffing every goddamn scene of Zoolander 2 with as many cameos by notable celebrities as you can imagine. Few, if any, contribute anything of note to the plot or deliver big laughs. Everybody from social media celebrity Jerome Jarre to Neil deGrasse Tyson to John freaking Malkovich (Hollywood, can we please get John something of substance to do? I miss seeing him in good movies) show up because....I dunno, maybe they thought it would compensate for the lack of effective gags if they had a parade of famous faces show up?
If that was their intended goal, it doesn't work one bit. If anything, it just shows how tepid Zoolander 2 is as an overall motion picture. To be fair, Ben Stiller's work as a director is, while a notable step down from Tropic Thunder and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, at least makes Zoolander 2 look more cinematic than, say, Daddy's Home. But in the areas where this film really needed to shine (namely in the jokes and characters) it just stumbles badly. Hell, this movie isn't even worth me coming up with the energy to think of a pun referencing a notable quote from the first movie that I can use to close out this review.
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