Fifteen years after Zoolander became a cult classic, Ben Stiller returns to his role of a really, really good-looking (and incredibly stupid) runway model in a film as ridiculous as its predecessor. Like the original, Zoolander 2 is peppered with an endless parade of celebrity cameos and a lot of nonsense.
1. What’s it about?
After the events of Zoolander, Derek’s perfect life with Matilda (Christine Taylor) and their son Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold) promptly fell apart; when 2 opens, he’s been a recluse for years, having lost custody of his son after Matilda was killed in a tragically ridiculous accident, which also scarred Hansel (Owen Wilson), driving him into seclusion as well. Now, somebody is murdering pop stars, and there seems to be a link to Derek’s signature “Blue Steel” look, so the two are dragged from retirement and pushed together in pursuit of the villains, in an adventure which also reunites Derek with his son.
2. Will I like it?
Did you like the first one? There seems to be no middle ground with Zoolander; it’s either hilarious or the stupidest waste of time ever committed to film, with very few people in the middle. There are some new targets for co-writer-director Stiller’s sardonic barbs, mostly involving SNL‘s Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, and Kyle Mooney in key roles, along with Penelope Cruz as a swimsuit model turned Interpol agent.
3. Will my kids like it?
Are your kids in high school? It’s really not appropriate for kids below their teen years, unless you’re very open-minded about a lot of not-vanilla sexual innuendo, including a scene of Hansel describing a threesome with Derek and Matilda to their son. It’s awkward and uncomfortable when he does it, and has to be more so when your kids ask what that was all about.
4. When is a good time for a bathroom break?
It’s just over an hour-and-a-half long, so you’re probably not going to need one, and the plot moves rapidly, so, if you step out at any time, you’re sure to miss something. But the plot is almost irrelevant anyway, just an excuse to throw bizarre sight gags and sly asides onto the screen.
5. Is the rating appropriate?
Yup. It’s rated PG-13 “for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language.” The crude and sexual content is pretty much constant throughout, the exaggerated violence scene is in the opening, when Justin Bieber gets machine-gunned in a Peckinpah-like hail of bullets (and seems to be having a great time poking fun at himself), and the brief strong language is a few of the standard ones that usually earn the rating. Penelope Cruz earns a PG-13 rating all by herself just by showing up.
6. Do I need to have seen the previous movie in the series to enjoy it?
Possibly, at least to be familiar with the tone and conceits of the film. It ranges from subtle sight gags to bawdy farce with frequent dips into absurd surrealism, with a lot of winking meta-jokes, in a scattershot “throw everything at the wall and some of it will stick” philosophy that’s more an assault than an approach. Will Ferrell’s Jacobi Mugatu in particular benefits from knowledge of his history.
7.What are some of these cameos?
Susan Sarandon has a great moment that includes a reference to her first major role; Willie Nelson hits the punchline on a lunatic orgy sequence; a large group of top fashion designers turn up to be ridiculed while playing evil versions of themselves and are pretty good sports about it, in particular Marc Jacobs, Anna Wintour, Tommy Hilfiger, and Alexander Wang. Katy Perry gets a fun moment that’s expanded in one of the trailers beyond what ended up in the film, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson completely owns his little bit. Benedict Cumberbatch’s bizarre turn as androgynous model “All” is funny in a cringeworthy way. Dozens of other actors, celebutantes, and pop stars show up, several of them as recently-deceased victims of the same bad guys who gun down Bieber.
8. Do I need to stay to the end of the credits?
Nope. There’s nothing after the credits but the Paramount logo.
All in all, Zoolander 2 manages to hit a lot of the same notes as the original, and enough time has gone by to make one enjoy catching up with these distinctive characters–if one liked them the first time around.