We waited 15 years for this?
Derek Zoolander transformed from a comic trifle to cable-friendly classic since Ben Stiller’s film hit theaters in 2001.
So “Zoolander 2” wasn’t the worst idea possible. That honor goes to fans clamoring for George Lucas to direct another “Star Wars” sequel.
The sequel’s execution? That’s another story. So many comedy bits don’t just die before our eyes. They writhe on the floor as if being slowly being poisoned. It’s not pretty … even if stars Stiller and Owen Wilson look as youthful as they did back in 2001.
It shouldn’t take much to reunite us with Derek Zoolander and Hansel, the frenemies from the first film. Instead, a quartet of screenwriters who all should know better concocted the most ornate plot since “Inception.”
We learn after a silly prologue featuring Justin Bieber that Derek’s wife was killed thanks to his stupidity. Then, when Child Protective Services learned Derek was too stupid to cook spaghetti they took his son away.
Now, an isolated Derek wants to reclaim custody of his now-teen boy. He’ll have to reteam with Wilson’s Hansel, figure out why a fashion queen (Kristen Wiig, a rare comic highlight) wants him modeling again and team with a curvy Interpol agent (Penelope Cruz).
That’s roughly 1/4th of the plot for those playing at home. Eventually old foe Will Ferrell arrives to prove “Land of the Lost” wasn’t his bigges big-screen embarrassment.
Like most sequels, “Zoolander 2” revives select gags from the original, almost always to diminished effect. The scenes crash into each other, piling up like cars on a snowy highway. The same goes for the celebrity cameos, jammed in as if to accommodate the stars’ demanding schedules.
And who thought a Susan Boyle cameo made sense in 2016?
Kyle Mooney deserves some sort of honorary Razzie for playing the least engaging character in recent memory. His Don Atari wanders into the frame every 20 minutes, spouts some painfully unfunny dialogue and then slinks away.
The film’s biggest laugh drew outrage from social justice warriors after the film’s trailer hit the web. Benedict Cumberbatch plays All, an androgynous model who floats between male and female. It’s a cutting way to comment on a cultural push to do away with gender differences. Cumberbatch nails the character’s unsettling alure in his very brief screen time. A smarter film would have done more with such a character.
FAST FACT: Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller have made 13 films together so far.
There’s so much a “Zoolander” movie could spoof in 2015. A selfie gag works briefly, but what about our celebrity-obsessed culture? Our age of pretension and ego, witness a certain presidential candidate?
Why bring Derek and co. back if there’s nothing to satirize and so few jokes worth telling? Maybe they were better left to our memories, or pushing our nostalgia buttons with occasional public appearances.
One could argue the film’s PG:13 gags were meant to be edgy. But edgy without brains is just plain lousy. Exhibit A? Watch Hansel describe having sex with Derek’s late wife to their teen son. That’s a knee-slapper. And for the easily offended, consider an early sight gag involving a building collapse in 2001.
Sometimes you can tell a movie is drowning in flop sweat by its score. The harder it works, the more heavy lifting is needed. The music in “Zoolander 2” is so bombastic it could be dropped into a “Fast & Furious” sequel without anyone noticing.
Like “Anchorman,” which also nurtured its fan base over time, a “Zoolander” sequel was inevitable. What we got was a sixth rate “Austin Powers” clone that chases away the good memories from Derek’s Blue Steel gaze.
DID YOU KNOW: The boycott over Benedict Cumberbatch’s “non-binary” character in “Zoolander 2” garnered 24,000-plus online signatures but didn’t force Paramount Pictures to trim the scenes in question.