Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 by Jack Giroux
Ben Stiller had been trying to make Zoolander 2 for years. Originally going to be directed by the film’s co-writer and co-star, Justin Theroux, Stiller returned to the director’s chair for the comedy sequel. It’s been almost 15 years since the first movie, so we have to ask: is there still an appetite for these characters? After all these years apart from Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson), are they still funny?
Find out what critics are saying about the film below.
These characters aren’t as fresh as they once were, so a lot of the jokes and character moments are very predictable. The biggest problem with Zoolander 2 is that it mostly goes through the motions. Stiller delivers exactly what you expect from this sequel, including too many cameos and callbacks.
The first wave of reviews haven’t been kind to the film:
While I think some of the jokes in the film take cheap shots at questionable targets, that is the least of the film’s problems. I believe you can make jokes about anything as long as they’re good jokes, and I’m confused how Stiller and his collaborators missed the mark so completely. Take the big climax of the film, for example. It’s such a misfire from concept to execution and completely packed with fashion-world cameos, and after every attempted punchline, they cut around the room so all of these famous non-actors can “react hilariously,” and the repetition and rhythm of it becomes almost infuriating. Great. Congratulations. Marc Jacobs and Valentino and Anna Wintour are in your film. They’re not funny, and giving them more lines only reinforces the point.
It’s 15 years since Zoolander first sashayed into cinemas, dying on initial release but gradually building a devoted following. The sequel sticks to the formula that (eventually) worked last time. Like its predecessor, Zoolander 2 is stitched together from some teeny scraps of plot, studded with a few really smart jokes and a lot of very stupid ones, then heavily studded with dazzling star cameos. It’s a likable mess, although it lacks the memorable lines of the first, making it liable to be enjoyed once and forgotten, rather than revisited for years to come.
This choppy midsection loses momentum as the writers toss gags at the screen with varying success, relying on our existing affection for the returning characters rather than providing persuasive new reasons to invest. Sure, it’s a kick to see Stiller and Wilson back in the shoes of these camera-ready cretins, but for every joke that sparks there are several that just lay there. The counterbalancing effect of the first film’s civilian love-interest and investigative accomplice, Matilda (Christine Taylor, who pops up only briefly), is missing here. Cruz looks sensational and seems game for anything, but especially once Valentina’s past as a swimsuit model is revealed, she stops being an effective foil for the clueless self-absorption of Derek and Hansel.
The bend/break rules of comedic malleability are well established, but do not forget the dictum that schtick barely expands. If cinema has taught us anything, it’s that there’s nearly a zero-tolerance policy for the comedy sequel, one of the most difficult nuts to crack. And while comedy follow-ups are something Paramount Pictures have been curiously invested in of late (“Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”), “Zoolander 2,” Ben Stiller’s largely tiresome, predictable and belated sequel to his 2001 fashion-world comedy, is not a wise bet.
It’s fine if “subtle” isn’t going to be in the film’s vocabulary, but “Zoolander 2” strikes the same gongs over and over again. We learn early on, for instance, that Wiig’s character crazily mispronounces words in some cryptic European accent, and that her feet never touch the ground. And in her next four or five appearances, we get that joke again, and again. There are no build-ups or pay-offs here, just a lot of random moments of people saying stupid stuff, and fashion people being gently lampooned.
Cruz doesn’t get any funny lines — because no one gets any funny lines — but she nails the series’ sweetly dopey tone; it’s easy to imagine a version of this movie with a sharper script where that character becomes as beloved as Mugatu or Hansel. A few gags land (Wiig’s bizarre accent, which does for vowels what Christopher Walken does for punctuation, is cute), but so many don’t. Whole characters come and go without delivering a single laugh.
There are a few other positive reviews like Empire’s out there, but for the most part, critics agree Zoolander 2 doesn’t live up to its potential. The sequel isn’t without its strengths, especially whenever Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig share the screen together, but those moments of pure ridiculousness don’t makeup for all the other missed opportunities.
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