By: Brandon Wilhelm
My patience is rarely tested at the theater. At best, a bad film will make me yawn frequently and nothing more. Yet, here I am telling you that my ass was actually screaming at me to get up and walk out on Zoolander No. 2, the fifteen-years-in-the making sequel to the uproarious original. The jokes come just as often, but the humor is missing entirely. One is actually more likely to squirm in their seat rather than laugh, and there were even moments when I was outright offended by the proceedings.
Beginning with an odd action sequence that sees Justin Bieber gunned down in a hail of gunfire, the film quickly lays out the current setting: a freak accident in the wake of male model Derek Zoolander’s happy ending in the first film quickly sent him into forced exile for fifteen years. He is summoned back into action at the behest of Billy Zane to attend a fashion show held by Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig, who scores the few laughs to be had here) while at the same time being asked by Interpol police Melanie Valentina (Penelope Cruz, lovely as always) to help her investigate a recent string of celebrity assassinations. His old buddy, Hansel (Owen Wilson), joins him and another wacky adventure ensues.
If this all sounds convoluted, let me assure you that it is. In addition to the main thrust, there are subplots involving Zoolander reconnecting with his son, Mugatu (Will Ferrell) returning with revenge on his mind, Hansel trying to find himself in the wake of his posse informing him that he’s impregnated all of them (including Kiefer Sutherland—I’m not making this up, I swear), and a weird legend involving the world’s first supermodel named Steve. What starts out ungainly only grows worse as we go along. Just like the first film there are celebrity cameos galore. In addition to those mentioned earlier, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ariana Grande, Susan Sarandon, Anna Wintour, Katy Perry, Neil deGrasse Tyson, John Malkovich, MC Hammer, Susan Boyle and Sting pop in for quick appearances, among so many others. The disappointing aspect: they aren’t the “gotcha” moments of the original. Rather, they feel shoehorned in with little to no punch.
Cumberbatch, by far, is the worst offender. His “All” is a terrible attempt to make light of transgendered people, and the joke fails horribly. Indeed, the brief exchange with Derek and Hansel fundamentally gets down to the real problem of Zoolander No. 2. Rather than letting the humor flow organically from the ridiculous situations, the creators force it down our throats. So much so that the film becomes so tedious so quickly that I come back to my opening statement.
Very seldom has a film tested my patience as this one. I was practically on my knees begging for the credits to roll, if for no other reason than to return feeling to my buttocks. Ben Stiller, his cast and his crew are better than this, and we know it. The technical elements are competent enough to keep it from being unwatchable, and as I said earlier Wiig keeps one interested enough. If you’re looking for a good laugh this weekend go and see Deadpool, instead. You owe it to yourself to ignore this film.