Ben Stiller has been very busy lately. His credits on his latest film Zoolander are writer, producer, director and star. There is and always will be a place for 'irrelevant' comedies, some are good (Something About Mary, American Pie) and other are a disgrace to the genre (Revenge Of The Nerds Part III, The English Patient). These are films, which don't take life too seriously, have copiously large amounts of silly gags and generally swing towards gross-out humour. Zoolander fits nicely into the frame of such ‘epics’, but without as much gross-out humour it leans towards more of an ‘Austin Powers’ panache.
The premise; Derek Zoolander has big problems, apart from being a very dumb male model whose IQ is lower than the waist size of Kate Moss, he is trying to keep his crown of the Model Of The Year for the fourth year running. His upcoming rival is the younger, blonder Hansel, played by an enigmatic Owen Wilson. Both are unbelievably dumb, about as deep as a puddle and totally self-centred.
While these two morons fight it out over the Male Model of the Year award, evil fashion designer Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell), who is part of an underground fashion syndicate, is plotting to kill the new prime minister of Malaysia. The Malaysia PM wants to end child labour in his country hence unwittingly destroying the syndicates sweatshop industry. Mugatu needs some dim-witted idiot, impressionable enough to become an assassin. In step Derek Zoolander.
Zoolander is secretly brainwashed to kill the Malaysian PM, whilst he believes that he is in a health spa (told you he was dumb). Only a reporter, Matilda (played by Stiller’s real-life wife Christine Taylor) is aware of the plot. Derek is forced to join forces with his rival Hansel and try to figure out what to do as well as how to perfect his new ‘look’. Will Derek fulfil the dastardly deed? More importantly will his new ‘look’ save his career?
Zoolander is packed to the brim with cameos, including David Bowie, Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, David Duchovny, Natalie Portman, Billy Zane, Vince Vaughn, Jon Voight, Donald Trump, Cuba Gooding Jr, Tommy Hilfiger, Fabio, Lenny Kravitz, Gwen Stefani, Heidi Klum, Fred Durst, Kimberly 'Lil Kim' Jones, Garry Shandling, Stephen Dorff, Sandra Bernhard, Claudia Schiffer, Veronica Webb and more!!
Other roles such as Mugatu’s evil henchwoman Katinka (Milla Jovovich) are pretty limited but played well. Derek’s agent Maury Ballstein played by Jerry Stiller, (who is more commonly known for playing George’s father on Seinfeld) hams it up well.
The problem with Zoolander is that some of the jokes are hilarious and overall the film is only sporadically funny. Wait, wait, wait, the parts that are funny are very very funny, especially the photos shoots, the ‘petrol station’ disaster and the brilliant ‘walk off’ fight. Other things such as the orgy sequence with Matilda don’t work well, in fact, her whole character was bit of a downer altogether. The abundant satire of the whole modelling industry is very good, and the humour is written carefully and smartly enough to appear dumber than it is (no easy feat). Stiller and Wilson have never been funnier, playing both their characters with complete seriousness, which makes them even funnier. The whole concept has a hint of Austin Powers about it, but is much more low-brow, but these are mood points really, if you liked witty comedies then watch this one. I bet you practise your ‘Blue Steel’ look afterwards.
Score : 7/10
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