The Talkin' Pictures

Movie Reviews and Podcasts.
Home of The Criterion Quest and You Haven't Seen That?! podcasts.


It’s been fifteen years since world famous male models Derek Zoolander and Hansel stopped the evil designer Mugatu’s plans to assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister and a lot has changed. Derek is living a life of seclusion in the mountains and has to face old friends, new foes and his own self-worth when brought out of retirement to once again save the fashion industry (and the world).

A lot has happened in the fifteen years since the original “Zoolander”, the world has changed, technologies have advanced, trends have changed and Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson rocketed to stardom. The original film was a cult classic. It bombed at the box office and received incredibly mixed reviews, however it managed to find a new life on home video as people began to discover and embrace the films bizarre and ridiculous humour. I feel the same will be the case for “Zoolander 2” a film that, given what has transpired within the world and the film industry over the last fifteen years, has an incredible challenge ahead of itself as it tries to find an audience, much like the original, willing to go along with its crazy premise and weird humour.

The big question on everybody’s mind with “Zoolander 2” is “is it funny?” which is a hard question given how subjective comedy is. The key to any comedy film is its jokes. If they resonate with an audience it’s great and if not you’re in trouble. Because of this It’s hard to review a film like “Zoolander 2” for the general public. The humour on display in the film ranges so severely from the middling jokes you would find in any Hollywood comedy to some set pieces and gags that are so strange and eccentric that you may be the only person in the cinema laughing. That being said I love those kind of comedies and found myself laughing out loud numerous times during the film at both the broader jokes as well as the smaller, stranger ones. The thing I found most endearing about the comedy in the film was the people providing it. Instead of casting the film up with big name stars in minor roles Stiller gives key characters to smaller, lesser known comedians (like the amazing Jon Daly), giving them an opportunity to shine and show of their comedic talents. Kyle Mooney from Saturday Night Live is the prime example of this, playing a douchey, hipster designer who is almost as unintelligible as Alexanya Atoz, the Russian villain played by Kristen Wiig who gets to show off her brilliant comedic skills here after playing the straight woman in Stiller’s previous film.

The one downside to the film is that it doesn’t neceassrily show any artistic growth for Stiller as a director. His previous two films, “Tropic Thunder”, one of the best comedies in the last ten years, and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, a film I feel is underrated and truly showcased Stiller’s talents behind the camera, showed him truly progressing as a storyteller both in a narrative sense as well as a visual one. “Zoolander 2” feels like somewhat of a step backwards as it’s less visually interested and, to be honest, poorer looking than what we have become accustomed to from Stiller as a director. This may be due to the heavy load he had as actor, writer, producer and director on the film or possibly a shifted focus more on the humour of the piece rather than the visuals prompting a return to a similar style of filmmaking as the original film. He appears to be going back to the well out of a love for the characters and the fun he gets from putting them on screen rather than an urge to grow or stretch as an artist.

I realize that that may sound like a huge fault in the film, however it’s not. The film is funny and it never aspires to be anything more than that. It may never reach the ridiculous highs achieved by the first instalment (lightning rarely strikes twice) and it’s not the greatest of the stories to grace cinema screens this year but what would you expect from a film about male models saving the world? Stiller, Wilson and Ferrell appear to be relishing the opportunity to embody these characters again and the jokes come thick and fast culminating in a truly fun and hilarious cinematic experience.

7 out of 10.

Reviewed by Chris Swan,