The prevalent theme at the core of Ben Stiller’s eagerly anticipated Zoolander sequel, is the notion of being out of fashion, as we watch our eponymous protagonist and his loyal acquaintance Handel (Owen Wilson) come to terms with the fact they’re no longer relevant, and that the world of fashion has significantly changed. Sadly, it’s a misfortunate, unintentionally self-referential sentiment – for it’s not just the fictional characters that are no longer relevant, but the franchise, too.
Taking place 15 years after the preceding endeavour, we return to the world of the blissfully simplistic Derek Zoolander (Stiller) who has been living remotely following a tragic incident that saw his wife killed, and his son then taken away from him. Wanting nothing more than to be reunited with Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold), Zoolander is tempted in to a return to the world of fashion by an elusive Billy Zane, with the promise of regaining custody of his offspring. However upon his return, he realises he isn’t the only one striving to capture Derek Jr., as old-time adversary Mugatu (Will Ferrell) has similar intentions, linking the deranged antagonist to an ongoing case that has seen many celebrities callously murdered in cold blood, keeping agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz) on his back.
Similarly to Anchorman 2 – another superfluous sequel – there are so few good original jokes on offer that instead we rely heavily on reigniting old laughs, rehashing jokes from the first picture. There’s also the clear diversion technique that is cameos, making for various cheap, quick laughs that don’t require an awful amount of thought behind them: just abiding by the notion that if you bring in somebody very famous, put them in a wig and give them a few out-of-character lines, people will instantly find it funny. Though to be fair, it works wonders for Kristen Wiig, who plays Alexanya Atoz – easily the best thing about this piece.
But there’s not enough satire to counteract the absurdity. The first Zoolander had a barbed take on society, whereas this film deals strictly in the latter; and while completely insane, it’s all too contrived in its implementation. The first was a cult classic, but it had no idea it would be. That’s how it works, the whole point to a film obtaining cult status is that it had no idea it would. It so rarely works when strived for so tirelessly.