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Adrian Nelson
Adrian Nelson

Zoolander Movie

Families can talk about some of Zoolander's more serious themes, like bulimia, literacy, and sweatshop labor. Do you like seeing serious subjects brought up in silly movies? How does that affect their impact?

Zoolander Movie

Malaysia is a mostly Muslim country with a flag that looks a lot like ours: It has the red and white stripes of the American flag, and a blue field in the upper left corner, which instead of stars displays Islamic symbols, the star and crescent. Malaysia is home to the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur, the world's tallest buildings. But you get the point. If the Malaysians made a comedy about the assassination of the president of the United States because of his opposition to slavery, it would seem approximately as funny to us as "Zoolander" would seem to them. I realize I am getting all serious on you. Obviously, in times like these, we need a little escapism. "Hagrid," the usually sane critic at Ain't It Cool News, went to see "Zoolander" feeling "a comedy is just what I needed, and, what I feel, everybody needs at this time." His verdict? "It's a perfect film to help people forget everything for a few hours, and it's gonna be huge." Well, you know, I wanted to forget, but the movie kept making me remember. I felt particularly uncomfortable during the scenes involving the prime minister, shown as an elderly Asian man who is brought to New York to attend a fashion show where he is targeted for assassination. I would give you his name, since he has a lot of screen time, but the movie's Website ignores him, and the entry on the Internet Movie database, which has room to list 26 actors, neglects to provide it. Those old Asian actors are just place-holders, I guess, and anyone could play the prime minister.

For that matter, any country could play Malaysia. In years past, movies invented fictional countries to make fun of. Groucho Marx once played Rufus T. Firefly, the dictator of Fredonia, and "The Mouse That Roared" was about the Duchy of Grand Fenwick. Didn't it strike anybody connected with this movie that it was in bad taste to name a real country with a real prime minister? A serious political drama would be one thing, but why take such an offensive shot in a silly comedy? To some degree, "Zoolander" is a victim of bad timing, although I suspect I would have found the assassination angle equally tasteless before Sept. 11. The movie is a satirical jab at the fashion industry, and there are points scored, and some good stuff involving Stiller and Owen Wilson, who play the world's two top male models--funny in itself. The best moments involve the extreme stupidity of the Stiller character. Shown a model of a literary center to be built in his honor, he sweeps it to the floor, exclaiming: "This is a center for ants! How can we teach children to read if they can't even fit inside the building?" Funny, yes, and I like the hand model whose hand is sealed inside a hyperbarbic chamber to protect it. I also admire the ruthlessness with which "Zoolander" points out that the fashion industry does indeed depend on child labor. The back-to-school clothes of American kids are largely made by Third World kids who don't go to school. In fact, the more you put yourself into the shoes (if he had any) of a Muslim 12-year-old in a sport-shirt factory, the more you might understand why he resents rich Americans, and might be offended by a movie about the assasination of his prime minister (if he had the money to go to a movie). Kids like that don't grow up to think of America as fondly as the people who designed his flag.

Ben Stiller has executive produced many impressive TV shows, including the hit 2022 series Severance and the 2018 miniseries Escape at Dannemora. The actor is best known for his comedic roles, and while he's famous for playing Greg Focker in 2000's Meet The Parents, it's Stiller's turn as ditzy model Derek Zoolander that he is most closely associated with. Besides playing the memorable model, Stiller also co-wrote and directed both movies.

Zoolander was released in 2001, and several years later, Zoolander 2 came out in 2016. While the first movie is beloved and does a great job making fun of the field of fashion and how over-the-top it can become, is Zoolander 2 considered a good movie?

Zoolander introduced Derek Zoolander, a model who doesn't seem to understand most things that are happening around him. Derek, another model named hansel (Owen Wilson), and Derek's love interest Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor) who is a reporter attempt to halt the plan to kill the Prime Minister of Malysia (Woodrow Asai). The movie ups the stakes because Maury Ballstein (Jerry Stiller), Derek's agent, and Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) want Derek to be the one to kill the politician. Zoolander has a satisfying movie ending as Derek is successful and even finds love in the process.

Zoolander 2 continues Derek's story, this time showing him in a lot of pain at the beginning. Matilda dies in an accident at the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read and Derek is at a crossroads, no longer able to take care of their son Derek Zoolander Jr. Derek and Hansel get back into the modeling world and try to locate Derek Zoolander Jr. The movie is fairly chaotic and the models experience a lot of problems along the way.

Owen Wilson is great in several action comedies and he brings his trademark cheerful demeanor to both movies. Ben Stiller also shines as the main character who is goofy but somehow endearing. It isn't easy to make a silly character seem so charming, but Stiller is able to do this here.

Is Zoolander 2 a good movie? While the first movie was popular with critics and audiences, earning 64% on the Tomatometer and an 80% Audience Score, the sequel didn't fare so well on Rotten Tomatoes. The film doesn't measure up to the original and it feels like the plot and characters are all over the place, which explains the 22% rating on the Tomatometer and 20% Audience Score.

While the characters are likable in the first movie, the same thing isn't true of the sequel. Derek and Hansel both seem lost and confused, which makes it hard to invest in the journey that they go on. Sequels and prequels tend to be judged by the same things. Pearl is a perfect prequel because it adds a layer to Mia Goth's character and explores how she turns into the dangerous person that she becomes. The movie works because she's a fascinating, layered character who deserves this treatment.

While Derek Zoolander is hilarious in the first film, he falls flat in the sequel and doesn't seem as funny. The novelty of his character has worn off and the characters find themselves in silly situations that don't make much sense, which makes it hard to enjoy the story. Many elements go into a strong legacy sequel and the same thing is true of a regular sequel. While the first movie makes fun of fashion, the sequel doesn't seem as clever or witty, and this makes it less interesting to watch.

Aya Tsintziras is a freelance writer who writes about TV, movies, and has a particular interest in the horror genre. She has a Political Science degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Journalism from Ryerson University. She loves coffee, reading, working out, and watching TV. She lives in Toronto.

But the movie never rises above the level of a clever TV skit. Repetition is the name of the game here, so gags become increasingly predictable. The film also mixes low-grade gags with weirdly hip and even witty ones. Writers Stiller, Drake Sather and John Hamburg seem unable or unwilling to distinguish among them. Everything is fair game.

The decision to frame Zoolander 2 like a grotesque, art-damaged James Bond thriller reflects how much Stiller has changed, too, in the 15 years since the first film came out. Though Stiller's propensity for conceptual goofs has been a staple of his comedy since his sketch days in the late '80s and early '90s, the scale of his films has ballooned as his star has risen. That may be fine for a war-movie spoof like 2008's Tropic Thunder, but the added bloat does nothing for a weightless riff on fashionistas. With its nonstop parade of big-name cameos, the experience of watching Zoolander 2 is like being the plus-one at a Hollywood party where the guests are all blasted on synthetics. It's loud, garish and distracted, and doesn't care much about showing you a good time.

Ben Stiller has appeared in a smorgasbord of famous comedies. There's a great (or less often, terrible) Stiller comedy for practically any type of yuk-fest you enjoy watching, from the wildly successful comedy "Meet the Parents" to the trio of "Madagascar" movies to the provocative "Tropic Thunder." But perhaps one of his most memorable comedies is the 2001 feature "Zoolander." This project notably features Stiller stretching himself to play a role far removed from his nervous everyman archetype.

For many audience members, Ben Stiller's comically oblivious male model Derek Zoolander premiered on the big screen with the eponymous 2001 movie. But this feature film wasn't the character's first appearance in pop culture. Years earlier, Stiller had debuted the Zoolander character as a sketch comedy figure on VH1 in a filmed segment at VH1's 1996 Fashion Awards.

Though the supporting cast that would surround the character in his big-screen exploits weren't included just yet, Stiller established Zoolander's absent-mindedness and self-absorption quite firmly in his first sketch. This iteration of Derek Zoolander was seen talking to the camera about his daily routine to keep himself at the top of his craft as a male model by practicing eyebrow tilts. There are also gags, like Zoolander engaging in a playful skirmish with his fellow male models, that serve as precursors to jokes that would eventually emerge in the feature-length "Zoolander" movie.

As pointed out by sites like The Dissolve, there isn't a substantial amount difference between this early VH1 iteration of the character and the one seen in the two "Zoolander" movies. While some sketch comedy characters get tweaked when it's time to translate them into motion picture stars, Zoolander was consistent: Even the character's voice would remain the same over the years. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, they say, and that was certainly true of the original VH1 incarnation of Derek Zoolander. 041b061a72


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