By Barney Weston (I’m new to the paper and am on ERASMUS + from Manchester for just this semester)
Zoolander 2 reminds us that sequels to cult comedies, like Anchorman 2, can never live up to their predecessors, but can instead allow for audiences to again return to their favourite characters. Zoolander 2’s characters are what makes the film function. It is fantastic to see Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as Derek Zoolander and Hansel on screen again. It is also refreshing to have a few new faces show up on screen, be they Kristen Wiig playing Alexandra Atoz, or Benedict Cumberbatch playing the ‘male-or-female? who knows?’ model, All. There are some great cameos throughout the film also, including Billy Zane (again), Justin Bieber, Kiefer Sutherland, and most memorably, Susan Boyle and the American astronomer Neill de Grasse Tyson.
However, it truly is Will Ferrell as Mugatu, and his assistant Todd, played by Nathan Lee Graham, who steal the show. In Zoolander 2, Mugatu truly cements himself as one of the greatest villains in comedic cinematic history. His presence saves the film with funny joke after funny joke.
However, it is sad to see such a talented actress as Penélope Cruz, playing Interpol Fashion Police Agent Valentina, in the film. She only seems present as an object, and her crude role in the film reminds me of several comedy franchises (normally starring Vince Vaughn or Adam Sandler) that Zoolander is not.
The opening sequence of Zoolander 2 is a highlight of the film, allowing for the audience to watch Justin Bieber being gunned down, whilst also bringing them up to date from when Zoolander was originally released in 2001. Watching Derek lose his son following not being able to ‘make the spaghetti soft’ is particularly amusing. This passage of time is emphasised throughout the film. As Derek and Hansel return to the fashion world, they find themselves not strutting along beautiful New York City gangways as they used to, but instead performing in shows taking place on top of toxic waste heaps.
It is these kinds of moments, unfortunately only really taking place in the opening 45 minutes of the film, that are what make the Zoolander franchise stand out from others. Just as how Anchorman was about the classy news of the 1970s, Zoolander is all about the modern day fashion world, and the passage of time between 2001 and the present day, is made clear. The hipster designer Don Atari, played by Kyle Mooney, is another fantastic reflection of this.
Zoolander 2’s plot is also commendable. All films need good plots, and comedians tend to forget that comedy films are also dependent on this. In Zoolander 2, we have a plot that is funny in itself, whilst also allowing for the insertion of a funny set piece or two.
Zoolander 2 is ultimately a relatively funny sequel, whilst obviously not being as good as its predecessor, that manages to return audiences to the Zoolander franchise. Had it not been for the film’s predecessor, I would not have been a fan of this film at all. However, when you consider the ground work Zoolander did in regards to building some fantastically memorable characters, Zoolander 2 works well, allowing for it to progress (although not as much as it could have) from its predecessor.