We had one of the funniest teaser trailers ever for a highly anticipated comedy back when it premiered during the last “Mission: Impossible” movie, and there’s nothing in the movie that comes close to being gut-busting. Zoolander No. 2 is far from being good, but it’s not dead on arrival either as many have suggested. There’s at least some chuckles and a couple of medium-sized laughs. Bountiful wit is quite limited however.
I think Ben Stiller and his writer Justin Theroux figured that if they strung together a bunch of weird little scenes together that it would make magic. There’s nothing weird enough, and it falls awkward.
Some big honcho producer of the movie I assume insisted this sequel had to be completely cameo-heavy from first reel to last. Instead of turning it into a so snobby it’s hip vanity party, it’s just a bunch of odd appearances mixed in with so-what appearances. There are tons. I read 39 major celebrity cameos, many delivering diminishing returns. I had to read somebody else’s review for instance to recall that Katy Perry and Benedict Cumberbatch were here. Some reviewers singled out Kiefer Sutherland as being hilarious as a sex guru version of himself, but I was stone-faced during his appearances.
I honestly had a giggly good time though when Stiller, as Derek Zoolander, goes to revisit Will Ferrell in chains at a maximum security prison. Ferrell’s odd villain Mugatu plays a game of reverse psychology with Derek that’s cutthroat Will Ferrell humor.
Owen Wilson is usually an ace sidekick when he’s not an ace comic lead in a movie, but here he’s a rather atypical second-rate sidekick to Stiller. Penelope Cruz, who is one of my favorite all-time beauties, plays an Interpol agent who begins with a smart appearance and then goes into bimbo mode. Cruz should have demanded smarter dialogue before she signed on, yet it’s hard to deny she’s spirited. To see her in anything is my guilty pleasure. However, Kristen Wiig plays Mugatu’s girlfriend and villainess who evidently was paid to look weird and not offer much else. That’s just a flat out disappointment there.
As is, “Zoolander No. 2” is a watchable but disposable entertainment that would feel right at home on the original “Zoolander” DVD from fifteen years ago as supplemental why-not bonus material.
Stiller also directed, with none of the zap and exuberance he bestowed as a director unto “Tropic Thunder” (2008), which to me really is the great inspired Hollywood comedy of this young twenty-first century.
Update: “Zoolander No. 2″ along with “Batman vs. Superman” leads the dishonorable Razzie nomination field with 8 nominations. There were far more miserable pictures this year. Surely it’s a throwaway comedy with only amusing bits, but it shouldn’t be judged as miserable.
102 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
COMEDY / CRUDE HUMOR / WEEKEND DEBAUCHERY
Film Cousins: “The Golden Child” (1986); “Paris is Burning” (1991); “Zoolander” (2001); “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004).