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Film Review: Zoolander No. 2

Written by John Hamburg, Ben Stiller, Nick Stoller, Justin Theroux

Directed by Ben Stiller

Starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz

Rating: M

Ben Stiller brings back the“Blue Steel” look, but with only smiles, not laughter, the long awaited sequel is only for those that think an overdone list of cameos equals comedy and topicality. “Zoolander No. 2” is at times a fun, punchy and definitely well paced satirical comedy but it jumps straight over every moment that could be genuinely poignant.

Before going further I should declare that I haven’t seen the original “Zoolander”. On receiving my ticket to the preview it at once occurred to me to see the first one beforehand. Then I figured, not having grown up with that character I should see what it is like to see the new chapter of this cult favourite with completely fresh eyes. Luckily it did do a fair job for any new viewers like me in establishing the essence of our protagonist’s past.

Perhaps “Zoolander No. 2” is the perfect film for the old fans, and perhaps if I had grown up knowing “Zoolander” maybe I would care, but I doubt it. It just doesn’t have the heart that even the most outrageous comedy needs to have pulsing at every twist and turn.

After later reading up extensively on the 2001 original it’s fair to say that I don’t think the sequel is nearly as brave as that film or as it could have been in the context of 2016. Coming from the man who pulled off the edgy comedy that he did in films like “Tropic Thunder”, “Zoolander No. 2” seems passive in all but it’s use of the ridiculous.

Some characters belong elsewhere than cinema and while Derek Zoolander has obviously gathered a large following perhaps less is more with any revival and his pre feature film roots would offer more class to keep the beloved fashion icon ‘iconic’. Rowan Atkinson’s most famous creation for example has been immortalised through television far more than any feature film takes on Mr Bean have enhanced that character.

What “Zoolander No. 2” does exceptionally well is parody popular culture, films, fashion and show biz. Just as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” showed us the “quintessence” of “Life” and the way we live it so does “Zoolander No. 2” show us the quintessence of how utterly ridiculous the need for bigger, harder, faster has become in much of the work of the Marvels and Michael Bays of this world. Not to mention the spiral of the superficial that our smart phone culture has taken. “Zoolander No. 2” is a wonderful revealing mirror to this downward trajectory of wealthy society.

But Stiller’s Mitty was profound, “Zoolander No. 2”, simply put, is not.

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