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Family Movie Review: Zoolander 2 (PG-13)

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MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 102 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. Most of the stuff from the first ‘Zoolander’ film is recycled here, so a lot of the content is the same. Some cursing, including one use of the f-word; some transphobic and homophobic jokes and mocking of the mentally disabled and overweight; kissing, a recurring subplot involving a character who is in a relationship with an orgy group, implied sexual behavior including orgies, groping, and women in lingerie with cleavage and skimpy bottoms; some violence, including various stabbings, an explosion, a car accident, various characters die, and a subplot including the slaughter and eating of a child.

Failing to tap into practically any of the charm of its predecessor is ‘Zoolander 2,’ a supposed comedy devoid of practically any creativity and humor.

By Roxana Hadadi

There was a subversive quality to the 2001 film “Zoolander,” which launched Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell into the comedy stratosphere—its humorous-but-scathing takedown of high fashion was accurate in its pinpointing of that industry’s inherent absurdity. That’s not the case with this many-years-too-late sequel, “Zoolander 2,” which is so bogged down with tired jokes, celebrity cameos, and faux-religious prophecies that it forgets to be funny. It is almost utterly worthless.

To be fair, it’s not like “Zoolander” wasn’t itself rife with celebrity cameos (the model walkoff!) or absurd plot points (pretty much everything Ferrell does in the movie is ludicrous). But there was a spirit, a liveliness, and a genuine edge to the original “Zoolander” that are not present in the sequel, which keeps trying to one-up itself and ends up in a spiral of idiocy.

Model Hansel (Owen Wilson, of “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”) gets everyone in the “orgy” he is living with pregnant, including men, women, and a goat, and then considers cheating on them with another orgy, this time including singer Ariana Grande, a rabbi, a hippo, and a chicken. Fellow model Derek Zoolander (Stiller, of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) allows himself to swap places with his worst enemy because he doesn’t understand how reverse psychology works. And there is this recurring “joke” about Derek’s son being fat, and whether he’s inherently a bad person because he’s chubby—and this is a 10-year-old.

Set 15 years after “Zoolander,” the sequel uses faux-news footage to catch us up: Derek has disappeared from the public eye since the accidental death of his wife and Child Services assuming custody of their son; he’s dropped out of modeling and no one knows where he is. The same goes for Hansel, who also isn’t involved in fashion anymore. But over the past year, six major musicians have been assassinated—with the most recent being Justin Bieber—and Interpol “fashion police” agent Valentina (Penélope Cruz, of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”) realizes that they’ve all died recreating some of Zoolander’s most famous modeling poses. What are they trying to communicate?

At the same time, Zoolander and Hansel end up both being invited to Rome for a fashion show where they have been invited to model—little do they know, they’re the laughingstocks of the event. Yet when they meet Valentina and she asks for their help in figuring out who’s killing the pop stars, they barter for her help in locating Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold). Once the arrangement is made, Derek and Hansel end up pulled into a strangely different fashion world than what they remember, and run into some old foes from the past who aren’t really gone for good.

There is a meanspiritedness to “Zoolander 2” that wasn’t in its predecessor, and yet at the same time, this film has been embraced whole-heartedly by the fashion industry. This time around, they want to be in on the joke, and “Zoolander 2” lets them at the expense of the film’s bite. Numerous designers make cameos, Stiller and Wilson have been showing up in Valentino outfits during the entire press tour, and the film dials back on its criticism. But without that satirical bent, what’s the point?

“Zoolander 2” attempts to be more personal with recurring themes about fatherhood and self-actualization, but it’s done superficially and stupidly. The only humorous aspects of the film are Ferrell’s no-holds-barred tantrums, but he doesn’t show up until the last 15 or so minutes of the film. There is nothing more we needed to know about Derek Zoolander—“Zoolander 2” is purposeless.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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