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Zoolander 2 (AF)


Stars: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Kyle Mooney, Milla Jovovich, Christine Taylor, Justin Theroux, Nathan Lee Graham, Cyrus Arnold, Billy Zane, Jon Daly, Sting, Benedict Cumberbatch

Director: Ben Stiller

It’s taken 15 years (and four writers, including Ben Stiller) to revive Stiller’s legendary character.

Actually, I should apologise for using the word ‘revive’.

Despite all the frenetic acting, direction and scripting dejectedly Zoolander 2 is basically dead in the water and leaving me counting the minutes until the end credits saved the day.

To be fair, the opening sequence featuring Justin Bieber fleeing on foot from motorcycle riding would-be assassins before being riddled with bullets might well please all non-Bieliebers.

Bleeding Bieber grabs his IPhone and photographs his version of Zoolander’s famed pouting pose before luckily leaving the film by dying.

His last words, “Oh, fudge!” fundamentally sum up what follows.

It transpires that 15-years ago the “Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too,” collapsed, killing Zoolander’s wife.

Now Stlller’s bearded Zoolander lives in isolation in Darkest New Jersey.

Enter Billy Zane, quite well played by Zane, to persuade Stiller to star in a major fashion event in Rome.

Stiller (“Maybe it’s time to engage with the world again”) departs in an Uber taxi (that should end the film’s chances with London cabbies!) while Zane persuades Owen Wilson’s Hansel, living in the desert and having impregnated a whole herd of females and, somewhat implausibly I believe, also rendering Kiefer Sutherland pregnant, to join Stiller in Italy...

Briefly located in a sleazy Rome hotel made of human waste and therefore biodegradable, the daffy duo engage with the rest of the increasingly stupid story which involved them rescuing psycho villain Will Ferrell from a bizarre prison so that he can proceed with his desire to sacrifice Stiller’s estranged son in a laughably loony climax allowing Stiller, Wilson and others to – and to quote the crib sheet/press notes “SAVE FASHION”…

At one stage Wilson appear with the word “Lame” on his chest and the joke that follows claims the word is actually meant to be “Lamé”.

That gag and the film itself are essentially lame despite impressive efforts behind the camera by cinematographer Dan Mindel and editor Greg Hayden and some well-chosen, well-used Roman locations.

In fairness I should make clear that Stiller, Wilson, Kristin Wiig as a bitchy fashionista, Penelope Cruz (as the anything-and-everything goes heroine relegated to playing stooge to Stiller) and Ferrell all give their all and then far too much trying to breathe life into the dying celluloid creation.

Mind you, compared with guest star Benedict Cumberbatch’s truly embarrassing career-worst performance (worse even that his actress mother Wanda Ventham’s turn as a giant killer moth in 1967’s The Blood Beast Terror) as a longhaired gender unspecific (“Are you a male model or a female model?”) poseur, all the stars deserve every single award available.

Eventually I was reduced to counting cameo appearances by, among others, Macaulay Culkin, Kim Kardashian, Demi Lovato, Lennie Kravitz, Anna Wintour (statue or actually alive, hard to tell) and, given far too much screen time, Sting.

And sadly (especially when you think of the first film), while Stiller’s direction keeps things moving as best he can, the final product is still embarrassingly inert and barely raises a smile.

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
101 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 10 Feb 2016