Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie review: Zoolander 2

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There was little about 2001's Zoolander that warranted a sequel, and yet here it is.

An intentionally silly parody of the world of male modeling, the original film was thin on plot but heavy on memorable one-liners. The skit-like gags were made all the more amusing by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson playing "really, really, really, ridiculously good looking" male models.

It's a film you get fonder of as your memory of it fades, but Stiller, who stars, directs and produces Zoolander 2, obviously felt the selfie generation would appreciate knowing how to throw Derek Zoolander's trademark look, 'blue steel'.

The premise of Zoolander 2 is even more ridiculous than the original. Since the death of his wife in an accident, that also scarred the face of his best friend and fellow model Hansel (Wilson), and losing his son to social services, Derek has been living as a recluse.

Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander, Owen Wilson as Hansel and Penelope Cruz as Valentina Valencia in a scene from, Zoolander 2. Photo / AP
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander, Owen Wilson as Hansel and Penelope Cruz as Valentina Valencia in a scene from, Zoolander 2. Photo / AP

One evening Billy Zane turns up with an offer of work in Rome, and in an attempt to get back into the real world (well, the fashion world at least) Derek decides to come out of retirement.

Arriving in Rome, Derek discovers Hansel has also been hired. While their return to the catwalk isn't a success, Interpol fashion division chief Valentina Valencia, played by Penélope Cruz, recruits the models to help in an investigation.

A handful of famous musicians have been murdered, including Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Bieber - whose amusing, opening title scene has been well covered in the film's trailer. Derek helps break the case open, leading to Will Ferrell's imprisoned, psychotic fashion designer Mugatu, as well as fashion mogul and plastic surgery addict Alexanya Atoz, played by an unrecognisable Kristen Wiig.

Justin Bieber plays himself in a scene from, Zoolander 2. Photo / AP
Justin Bieber plays himself in a scene from, Zoolander 2. Photo / AP

But this fashion crime caper is carrying too much luggage to get on a roll. It's burdened by subplots and an endless line of cameos by screen stars, musicians and fashion designers. The star power is as extravagant as Alexanya Atoz's absurd costumes, and if you lived in Hollywood and weren't asked to appear you'd feel somewhat slighted.

Some cameos are amusing, such as Susan Sarandon and Kiefer Sutherland playing themselves but referencing their characters in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and 24 respectively. Others, such as Joe Jonas, who literally just sits down, are a waste of time, and it's a tough ask to expect non-actor fashion designers, including Valentino, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, to convincingly contribute to the film's climactic scene.

While there are enough gags to put a smile on your face at times, the writing generally isn't as strong as you'd expect from a team made up of Stiller, Zoolander screenwriter John Hamburg (Meet the Parents), Justin Theroux (who co-wrote Stiller's Tropic Thunder), and Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets, Get Him to the Greek).

Kristen Wiig portrays Alexanya Atoz in a scene from, Zoolander 2. Photo / AP
Kristen Wiig portrays Alexanya Atoz in a scene from, Zoolander 2. Photo / AP

Zoolander began as a television sketch and ideas are clearly starting to run thin.

In an attempt to draw the Zoolander legacy out, Stiller and co throw as much absurdity at us as possible and yet little sticks. Except maybe the notion fashion can be fickle.

Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson
Director: Ben Stiller
Running Time: 101 mins
Rating: M (Violence, sexual references and offensive language)
Verdict: Fun, frivolous and forgettable.

- TimeOut

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