By Blake Nelson
“Zoolander 2” could be easily written off by anyone who has seen the way Hollywood uses successful movies to make a franchise so it can cash in on the success. The original film has emerged as a cult success, perfect fodder for Hollywood executives. And 15 years seemed like too long of a time to bring the characters back without being forced.
When the film starts it does, admittedly, seem like a lame cash grab; having Justin Bieber in the beginning seemed rather odd. The rest of the first act is also slow, with a lot of exposition and some minor cheap gags.
The film doesn’t feel like a clone of the original as we move past the first act, as none of the same punch lines are used from the original and the film acts as a continuation of the story rather than a reboot.
It’s around the time that Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are both seen on stage again when the movie really gets moving. The chemistry between the two is just as good as the first film and the acting is right on for the characters.
The Zoolander character is played just as well as before by Ben Stiller, delivering lines with the same amount of idiocy while not sounding like a rehash of the original.
But the idiocy can only go so far for some people. This movie simply isn’t for everyone … but neither was the original. The original movie has about a 66 percent rating between both Rotten Tomatoes and the Internet Movie Database, so it is easily understood why the sequel would not sit well with a new audience.
Even though “Zoolander 2” revolves around stupid humor, the updated setting helps the film stand out from the original, adding laughs through hipster characters and current tropes.
It seems Stiller knew all the right buttons to push when writing the new script — popular celebrities pop in and out and meme-inspired gags are used to add another level of stupidity to the film. Although sometimes a little gratuitous, the film doesn’t overplay its meme exposure.
The best scenes in the film are the ones in which Zoolander and Hansel are exposed to the contemporary world of modeling. Hipster tropes are used to set the two characters in fish-out-of-water roles that help poke fun at how long it took the film to be made.
The film also exhibits a healthy amount of self-awareness that helps the viewer not take the idiocy on film too seriously.
However, through all its effort the film is still somewhere in the middle on the scale of quality. There were some funny parts, but the film seemed a little crowded — too many characters and plot points to really allow the viewer some time to let a joke set in.
The major failures of the film are due in large part to its incohesiveness. While the original was easy to follow and had perfectly timed jokes, the new film doesn’t have a good sense of comedic timing. The jokes sometimes seemed shoehorned in rather than being completely relevant to the story.
So no, this isn’t a cinematic masterpiece, nor is it better than the original; however, it is better than one of the many cash-in sequels from Hollywood. This film is for both fans of the original and people who like Stiller’s film “Tropic Thunder.” If you are either of those people, then you should go have a few laughs and enjoy a decent movie.
Blake Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @b_e_nelson.