The existence of more Zoolander** is the only reason to celebrate this tatty follow-up. It merely provides an excuse to confess to having enjoyed the original’s characters and send-up, but it all looks passe these days.
Not that Derek Zoolander himself (Ben Stiller) isn’t aware of this. He’s spent some time “out of fashion” as he calls it, living as a “hermit crab”, which basically means he’s holed up in a fur-lined ski lodge in “Extreme Northern New Jersey” and grown a magnificent mane of hair, like a young Stephen Toast.
I shan’t explain the plot because it’s so painfully convoluted, the product of so many script brain storming sessions that desperately try to validate the existence of the sequel – it’s what happens when the concept, not the story, green lights a film.
So, after the disastrous collapse of his “Centre For Kids That Can’t Read Good”, Derek’s quest for acceptance by his son and his search to relight the “fire in his face” becomes slathered in tangents and ridiculousness, somehow involving the re-introduction of Hansel (Owen Wilson), a spate of celebrity deaths – including Justin Bieber – all doing Blue Steel on Instagram, and the arrival of Interpol Fashion Police detective and former swimsuit model, Valeria Valencia, played very gamely by Penelope Cruz, who proves her comedy chops here and frankly deserves to be in a much better movie.
There’s some funny stuff from a practically unrecognisable Kristen Wiig as a sort of Ivana Trump fashionista strangulating odd Russian-style syllables out of every word, but things don’t really pick up until the resurrection of Mugatu, when Will Ferrell brings much needed madness to the flailing mayhem of the plot after escaping from a “high security fashion prison”.
The climax is typical, involving a kind of cult ceremony under a catacomb in Rome with cameos from Anna Winter, Valentino, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger and Alexander Wang, all trying to act as an occult-type ensemble but having clearly all done their bits alone on days off between shows.
I spent my time spotting other celebs: Kate Moss, Sting, Katy Perry, Benedict Cumberbatch (disconcertingly convincing as a transexual called All), as well as Billy Zane, Kiefer Sutherland and many more who pop up for no real reason other to say they’ve been at the party. I suppose that’s pretty “fashion” of them.
With so many gags and such ridiculously stupid characters, there are bound to be laughs, but not nearly enough of them. You really do need to fondly remember the original – 15 years ago – for the repeat gags to have any resonance. But fashion and comedy – both serious businesses, of course – have moved on since and while the satire felt fresh back then, I honestly don’t know who the joke’s on nor what the joke is any more.