So the first Zoolander kind of meant a lot to me. I completely understand how weird that might sound but I have several reasons for really liking that movie. First, it was made by Ben Stiller during one of his good periods. I really like Ben Stiller comedies as long as he is writing or directing them although. There are a few exceptions like Mystery Men but he can be really great sometimes. Second, this was the first comedy movie release after 9/11 and it was really refreshing to have a silly but secretly clever comedy to embrace. Third, everybody in the movie is on their game especially Ben Stiller. The characters all do exactly what they’re supposed to and the humor is just silly enough without being stupid. Besides, there are cameos from David Bowie, Billy Zane and David Duchovny, how can you hate that?
Anyway, I recently watched the original again and realized why I really liked it. I saw the ads for the new movie and I was wondering why they were making a new one sixteen years later. The first movie was good but it had a horrible box office due to being released so soon after 9/11. I never really understood releasing a sequel so far after the first movie unless your Kevin Smith. Still, I can’t really fault Stiller or anybody else because I think the movie found a lot of life on DVD and VHS well after the fact. I have heard some of the movie quoted by people through the years so I know that people saw it. Part of the appeal of the first one is that it was poking lighthearted fun at the modeling industry at a time when supermodels were still a thing. The original feels less relevant and more nostalgic now but that does not mean this one would be bad,
Right from the start I realize that Stiller has learned a lot since 2001. The movie feels a lot like the love child of Tropic Thunder and Zoolander. The first movie was pretty silly and weird with some darkness thrown into the mix. This one starts darker and that’s saying something if you consider this scene was in the first one. Just like the first one, there are a ton of celebrities from start to finish. Like a lot of the first movie, there are a lot of moments that were equal parts weird and funny. The great playfulness between Stiller and his real-life wife Christine Taylor is out which is a shame. Instead, we get Stiller’s Zoolander hanging out with my favorite version of Owen Wilson. There are a whole bunch of fun new characters to interact with the two dumbest human beings ever as they engage in espionage once again.
It is not much of a spoiler since they showed it on the trailer, but pretty much the whole cast is back for this one. I was not expecting for certain characters to make their return but I was very pleasantly surprised. The espionage plot is over-the-top silly but it makes a weird bit of sense. There is a melodramatic subplot that follows from the first movie that was actually kind of touching but there was not much comedy material there. They also gave Owen Wilson a lot more to do which is good because in the first movie he was just kind of inserted into the second half. This movie felt a little more fluid and coherent than the first movie. It could have done without one of the subplots but it still worked pretty well.
Overall, the movie was good. I think the movie shows some evolution from the first one and makes me think that Ben Stiller (and co-writer Justin Theroux) have a lot of good work ahead of them. There is a lot of the same quality comedy dialogue that was in Zoolander and Tropic Thunder. The visuals are on par with Tropic Thunder and sometimes better. The movie was not the greatest but it definitely was way better than the 23 percent it got on Rotten Tomatoes. I think maybe you needed to be a fan of the first movie to enjoy it fully but as long as you go in with the right attitude, it is a fun movie.