Zoolander 2 Review - The Grok Magazine

I was given the opportunity to attend a preview screening of the long-awaited Zoolander 2 film on the 10th of February at Hoyts Cinema Carousel. Prior to the show, my dad and I enjoyed a complimentary choc bomb each, and discussed our expectations of the sequel to one of our favorite films. Here is the review I wrote for Curtin University's magazine, the Grok, which will be featured this years first issue;

In the great tradition of sequels, Zoolander 2 is resoundingly cliché. Despite a strong cast and many laugh out loud moments, the Ben Stiller film just didn’t quite hit the mark.

Many viewers brought high expectations to the preview screening, due to the success of the first Zoolander movie and the recent promotional hype. Dedicated Instagram and Twitter accounts, a Snapchat story of the premier and countless other publicity stunts shared online may lead to the film being a box office success, unlike its predecessor.  

The original film suffered from an untimely release, three weeks after the September 11 attack. Fortunately, it gained a cult following due to its cleverly woven social commentary on the modelling industry and quick-witted (or slow in the case of the title character) humour. However in these areas, “Two-lander” is lacking.

Struggling to find its own plot, the film’s action emerged like a bad 80’s reboot, focusing on high production value and quips similar to Austin Powers - without the memorable one-liners. Through all of this, the charm of the original movie is lost.

Since Zoolander’s 2001 release, the fashion world has certainly become more mainstream and accessible to the non-elite. Stylists self-broadcasting on YouTube, the rise of the Instagram model and shows like Next Top Model and Project Runway opening up the fashion world to the every-man, should have provided the sequel with much satirical fodder. However that was all left behind to rehash Zoolander’s old jokes, which in this new setting are no longer fresh but “Old and Lamè” (a new joke given away in the trailer).

Many of the fashion personalities made fun of in the first movie were now in on the joke. A star-studded cast including designer Marc Jacobs and notorious fashion editor Anna Wintor exacerbated the film’s lack of authenticity. Similarly, the demise of Justin Bieber early on in the movie would have been pleasing to most viewers...if the movie was released a few years ago! But now the Biebs is cool this joke only really resonates with the older generation, leaving the rest of us feeling sorry....

I wasn’t quite sure if Kristen Wiig was in fact Kristen Wiig for most of the movie, which is a testament to her acting! However for the high billing she received, her part in the film was small. More could have been made out of her character in my opinion at the expense of People Cruz’s seriously tired cliché swimsuit model “slash” Interpol cop.

I would have been ill-advised to have walked into the theatre thinking I wasn’t about to view a really, really ridiculously...ridiculous spoof comedy. The over-the-top nature of the movie was to be expected, but my disbelief was barely suspended to the point where I began questioning the intentions of the filmmakers.

The second half of the film was saved by Will Ferrel as Mugatu. His loud caricature managed to steal the show and offered some actual commentary on the self-important fashion industry. His character added some credibility and explanation to the over-the-top ending of the seemingly money- hungry reunion special.

I expected more of a Ben Stiller film, due to his track record of writing, directing and producing great films such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Tropic Thunder and Duplex. Zoolander 2 was a mirror of the poor effort that was the 2013 Anchorman sequel, proving that just because the “Frat pack” actors Owen Wilson, Stiller, Ferrel and Co create something, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a success.

Many of the Grok’s readers will grow tired of the jokes mocking young people and hipsters in the form of the character Don Atari, a new and upcoming fashion designer. In comparison, jokes about the old has-been models die fast, leading me to question if that was the best material they could produce when there was potentially so much for the taking. However, the controversial character ‘All’ brought to life by the unexpected Benedict Cumberbatch is not insensitive in my opinion, but a humorous social commentary on a topical issue of the modern fashion industry.

I have awarded the film three stars because after all, I did enjoy it. It was likeable and not quite a flop, providing some good laughs. Even though it almost spoiled the film that came before, I would add it to my DVD collection, but would recommend saving your popcorn and ticket money to support your Netflix addiction.


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