Left to right: Owen Wilson plays Hansel, Penelope Cruz plays Valentina Valencia and Ben Stiller plays Derek Zoolander in Zoolander No. 2 from Paramount Pictures.

Zoolander 2: Less Than Picture Perfect

To the credit of it’s creators and press team, “Zoolander 2” has had an incredible social media campaign leading up to the release of the actual movie itself this February 12, 2016 in advance of Valentine’s Day weekend. Indeed the intricacy and spot on nature of the campaign is a wholly self sufficient and brilliantly satisfying theatre unto itself. They have the flawless skincare promo for The House Of Atoz, a hilarious send up by Kristen Wiig of a next to unintelligible more Russian styled Donatella Versace. There is also a spectacular fashion moment featuring a not quite centaur styled Zoolander opposite the ever-gorgeous Naomi Campbell. As for interactive IRL moments, in Los Angeles “Zoolander 2” had a #ZoolanderGasStation Memorial For Models Who Were Killed By A Freak Gasoline Fight Accident, which was something tenable that old and new “Zoolander” fans could get a good laugh from as well as a nice free of charge photo op.

However, despite all of this social media eye candy and care to detail, when it comes to the actual movie, “Zoolander 2” falls short as a cohesively funny whole. Despite everything being teed up to make this film epic when it comes to hilarity, oddly nothing every really falls into it’s place and stays put as something you can really laugh about until you just can laugh anymore.

“Zoolander 2” starts off well with an excellent cameo by none other than Justin Bieber, but when it comes to connecting all of the unexpected cameo bits to the SNL sized scene gags, the whole movie just doesn’t coalesce. Time and time again, we are waiting for the other shoe to drop on a scene that we know is supposed to be funny, but in actuality is more of a forced laugh based on what we found funny about the original “Zoolander” versus a genuine reaction to what is being presented now. A large part of this inability to deliver could be the setup of our two heroes, Derek Zoolander, played by Ben Stiller and Hansel, played by Owen Wilson. Other than reiterating that Zoolander is still dumber than a box of rocks, and Hansel still has a humorously open relationship with romantic commitment, not much else is left to discover in depth about them. As such, they remain largely static and one dimensional in a vehicle that only works if they have the ability to be all in as complex, albeit funny players.

As for the best part of the film, Will Ferrell’s Mugatu leaves Stiller and Wilson in the dust when it comes to consistently bringing on the funny. Unlike Stiller and Wilson’s characters, we get to see a very complex and hilariously elastic exploration of exactly how evil Mugatu and the exclusivity of fashion can be. Ferrell’s balls to the wall performance as the unabashedly soulless but deviously fashion conscious Mugatu is not just enduringly comedic, but inspired. The quick dressing down that Mugatu gives Anna Wintour makes the grade as a sharp and witty takedown of high fashion as a glittery but largely empty show of white privilege and class attitude at it’s worst – and that’s no mean feat in a mainstream comedy. If the movie itself doesn’t deliver as a complete package, the bits that Mugatu gives are enough to give the idea of going to see this movie in the theatre some life. Other special cameos, such as Kiefer Sutherland as a Jack Bauer you wouldn’t expect and Ariana Grande getting labeled a “basic bitch” are moments to die for.

Overall grade, a C minus with special circumstances.

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