Sunday, February 21, 2016

Zoolander No. 2 Review

Derek, don't ever change.

Zoolander is probably one of the best, if not my favorite, dumb comedies of all time. My family and I have a tradition where we watch Zoolander essentially every year. It's probably the movie I've seen the most in my entire life. I've seen it so much that I can quote it from front to back and laugh at every joke like I've heard it for the first time. I've seen it so much that any other human being would be sick of it, but I just can't stay away from Derek, Hansel, Mugatu, Matilda, and everyone else in this oddly perfect comedy. I can't even explain really why Zoolander works so well. I just know that it does.

When I first heard that Ben Stiller was making a second Zoolander, I was never apprehensive at all. Everyone returned to their roles, and it just felt good to see the old cast back at it again. Yes, it is a sequel to a movie released 15 years ago, but Anchorman 2 was still a pretty good movie in the end. It was certainly better than Dumb and Dumber To. I can't really explain why there has been a sudden resurgence of sequels to movies that no one was asking for (the aforementioned movies, Kindergarten Cop 2, 300: Rise of an Empire, Terminator: Genisys), but I don't think that it's been all bad. Some of these sequels have been a breath of fresh air in an industry that seems completely content with appealing to comic books fans. Just seeing an old fashioned comedy appear at all is enough to get me excited, as long as it isn't My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.

But then I started hearing rumors and early reviews about Zoolander No. 2 (2lander? Zoolander 2?) was not just a bad movie, but a terrible one. Currently it's clocking in at a 34 on Metacritic making it one of the worst reviewed movies of the year. Granted, this is just the beginning of the year, but keep in mind that we're passed January, which is pretty much the month where movies go to die. So after seeing it, I have no idea what the hell the critics who saw it were thinking, because Zoolander 2 is a pretty damned enjoyable comedy. It's not better than the original, but does it really matter?

I can see why a lot of people don't really like Zoolander 2. It spends way more time than it should riding the coattails of the original movie and even retells several of the best jokes from the first movie. At first glance, that would be enough for people to just write this off as a cheap nostalgic cash grab and move on. And yet, Zoolander 2 has a good handful of original jokes and gags that keep the movie feeling fresh.

Derek has been retired for fifteen years after an event involving the Derek Zoolander Institute for Kids That Can't Read Good forced him to give up male modelling. He's been living in the frozen tundra of North Jersey and is summoned back to the modelling world in order to participate in a new shoot for Atoz, the hottest fashion designer in the world. He's joined by Hansel, who is having a vision quest about his father and his fractured image in more ways than one. While with Atoz in Europe, Derek also tries to rekindle with his estranged son, who was taken away from him because he's an inept parent. There's thrills, spies, modelling, and pretty much exactly what you would expect from a Zoolander sequel.

I didn't walk into Zoolander 2 expecting to be blown out of my seat, but I can't deny that the magic is still there. Ben Stiller is still a fantastic idiot and he has great chemistry with Owen Wilson. Will Ferrell still does great work as Mugatu, while newcomers Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, and Benedict Cumberbach give pretty decent performances. Their roles are mostly to poke fun at modern trends, transgenderism (is that a word?), and just be as surreal as possible. The original characters are still moronically hilarious, but everyone else is bizarrely entrancing, even though they shouldn't be.

It's a shame that Zoolander 2 isn't getting the good reviews that it deserves, and it's a shame that there really isn't that much to talk about here. What else do you expect me to say besides "It's good, but not as good as the first one, but you should still totally see it?" Fans of Derek and company will still go see this movie, and even though it's been a week since Zoolander 2 released, pretty much everyone has already forgotten that it even existed. It's faded into the ether with the rest of the modern comedy revivals, which makes sense given that there really has been no hype for this movie both before and after it's been released. This is exclusively a fans only movie, and will most likely be a movie just for the fans in a few months time. But this fan thought it was good, so if you want more of a good thing, you can do a lot worse than Zoolander 2.


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