Zoolander was only a modest box office success back in 2001, but after finding a cult following on DVD it quickly became one of the most quotable comedies of the early 21st century. Zoolander 2 is a sequel that people probably aren’t going to be referencing fifteen years from now. Even if it’s not Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues or 22 Jump Street, the film is still likely to amuse anyone who enjoyed the original. At least that’s more than can be said about some sequels that didn’t even try, such as The Hangover Part II, or other sequels that have no business existing in the first place, like Ride Along 2.
Ben Stiller returns as Derek Zoolander, the really, really, ridiculously good looking male model of very little brain. As for what Derek’s been up to over the past decade and a half, that’s a long, pretty humorous story. Let’s just say that a series of events leaves our hero living a life in solitude. After Justin Bieber and several other beautiful celebrities are murdered, Derek comes out of retirement to help solve the mystery. Along the way, he teams up with Penélope Cruz’s Melanie Valentina, a sexy Interpol agent, and Owen Wilson’s Hansel, who’s struggling to remain loyal to only one orgy.
The cast also includes an unrecognizable Kristen Wiig, an even more unrecognizable Benedict Cumberbatch, and so many celebrity cameos that it’s hard to catch them all. One character who could’ve used more screen time is Will Ferrell’s villainous fashion designer Mugatu, who doesn’t even show up until the about a good third into the movie. Fortunately, there’s plenty of Derek and Hansel to go around. Once again, Stiller and Wilson share a wonderful chemistry with each other as two immensely funny characters. It’s just great to see these guys together again, even if Zoolander 2 can feel like a compilation of the last film’s best moments.
As with many long-awaited follow-ups to popular comedies, the best bits here are all throwbacks. Zoolander 2 doesn’t just repeat all the same gags without adding anything new, however. Stiller puts a particularly hilarious spin on his iconic Magnum look in a fun climax. The problem with this sequel is that it doesn’t build up a ton of classic jokes from the ground up. If you’ve never seen the original Zoolander, chances are you won’t laugh at all.
Then again, why would you even be in the theater if you weren’t a fan of the original? That’s obviously the target audience here. Stiller directs this outing with an abundance of kinetic energy, going much bigger than before. Granted, bigger doesn’t necessarily equal better and most fans will agree that Zoolander 2 isn’t the laugh riot its predecessor was. Thanks to a few colorful set pieces, some noteworthy supporting roles, and of course our leading men, though, there are just enough idiotically hysterical bits to make the film worthwhile. Just don’t expect anything on par with the merman, gasoline fight accident, or center for ants.