Derek and Hansel are lured into modeling again, in Rome, where they find themselves the target of a sinister conspiracy. (from IMDB)
Comedies are interesting phenomena. Sometimes they release to little fanfare but find a life after it leaves the theaters. Others do well at the box office and also afterwards, and ultimately become cult classics. Still others might do well at the box office but decrease in popularity over time. In the case of Ben Stiller's 2001 film, Zoolander, it released to poor reception and ended up becoming a favorite of many over the years that followed. This spawned talk of a sequel, but it didn't come to fruition until 15 years later. And much like Dumb and Dumber To or Anchorman 2, the end result is a mixed bag that rides heavily the wave of nostalgia off the first film, but ends up more of a hot mess than recapturing what made the first entry so enjoyable.
Zoolander released just weeks after the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001. They even digitally removed the Twin Towers from the background of a scene to try to be sensitive, but it just caused more controversy. It tanked at the box office-- I do remember seeing it and not liking it due to some of the really off the wall sexual jokes -- but it found its fans over the years that followed. (I rewatched it edited via CleanFilms a few years later and liked it a lot more). Sadly, by the time it finally found its sequel, it may have been too long since its initial release... And the the Zoolander sequel, like its predecessor, failed to make an impact at the box office.
Zoolander No. 2 takes place about 15 years later. Shortly after the events of the first film, Derek had "The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too" built, but it collapsed and killed his wife, Matilda. And after he proved to be a terrible single parent, child services took his son Derek, Jr away and the former male model went into hiding. But with a special visit from Billy Zane, Derek was inspired to try to get his son back by becoming a successful model once again. The plot is as silly as the film, but Stiller knows this and doesn't back down from making the entire film as outrageous as possible. These kinds of films are a bit old school if not really dated -- like the largely unfunny recent Dumb and Dumber sequel -- but like anything that once was popular but isn't anymore, it's an acquired taste. Zoolander 2 actually still has some funny moments, even if the rest of the time you'll just want to shake your head or cringe at how bad a gag is. The finale, for example, makes the same mistake most sequels make and tries to top the previous movie in size and scope. It's got its moments for sure, but in the end, you have to question the choices made by the filmmakers that end up cheapening the original film a bit. While the epic news team battle at the end of Anchorman 2 is entertaining and fun, it's lazy storytelling and piggybacks off of one of the best jokes from the first movie too much. Zoolander 2 sadly makes some of the same mistakes.
The sexual jokes from the first film make their return as well. The most uncomfortable scene in the original film is a goofy orgy scene involving Zoolander, Hansel, Matilda and a bunch of other random people. It's played for laughs, but it's pretty messed up. The sequel finds Hansel living with a group of men and women he just calls "orgy," and when we meet them, they all - including the men - tell him they're pregnant. In fear of becoming a father of 11, he runs away from this and joins Zoolander on his quest. There's also a scene where he's tempted by another orgy at a vulnerable moment, and his original group walks in on the craziness beginning to start. The only thing that made all of this insanity amusing to me is having Kiefer Sutherland pretty much playing himself as a Jack Bauer type being one of the main members of Hansel's "orgy." It's played SO silly that it's a little less awkward than the original film, but the whole idea still feels icky and is inappropriate (because, let's face it, it IS). There are a slew of other crude jokes as well, and some language, including a really out of place and out of character use of the "F" word from Zoolander. There's also one really exaggerated scene of violence at the beginning of the movie where we see Justin Bieber get shot up by a machine gun with lots of blood and bullet holes on him.
For the most part, Zoolander No. 2 is an amusing trip down memory lane that isn't a great film, but offers enough laughs and entertainment that it isn't a complete loss. The vulgar humor still shows up from time to time so I wouldn't recommend this for younger viewers. And considering its crass view of sex (especially orgies) -- although it's meant to be silly and not taken seriously -- all viewers should exhibit discretion before watching Zoolander No. 2.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 5/28/16)
The Zoolander Legacy (9:02) - Here, Ben Stiller and the filmmakers talk about how the original movie performed (and was ill-fated by its release right after 9/11). Celebrities - including those who play a part or do cameos in the sequel - talk about how much they loved the original and how classic it is. Benedict Cumberbatch even admits to loving the original so much that he was absolutely desperate to be a part of this movie! (1 "a" word in this featurette)
Go Big or Go Rome (7:38) - Stiller admitted to really wanting to shoot a movie in Italy. We see footage of him scouting in Rome and they talk about how they felt it was appropriate to move the story from NYC to Italy for the sequel. They talk about working at historic sites, as well as having worked on location in Rome for 6 months! (1 bleeped "F" word from Justin Theroux)
Drake Sather: The Man Who Created Zoolander (8:26) is all about a comedian who had written the Zoolander character for a short sketch, and asked Ben Stiller to play it. Slather also co-wrote the original 2001 film. Sadly, the comedian who died of apparent suicide in 2004 (something they don't address specifically here). This featurette serves as homage to Ben's friend and his legacy. It's a nice touch for them to spotlight him here. (There are a couple of clips of Drake telling some crude jokes, and there are 2 uses of "h*ll")
Youth Milk (1:30) - Kristen Wiig stars as her botox-abusing character Alexanya here for a fake commercial for "youth milk," her product to make you look young again.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 5/28/16)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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