“Zoolander 2” is a dumb movie. Of course, that is kind of the point. “Zoolander” was a dumb movie, but when it came out 15 years ago (holy Lord, does that make me feel old), it’s so-lowbrow-it-is-highbrow skewering of the fashion world felt fresh and surprising.
But even though the premise has lost its edge, well-executed dumb jokes still have a certain charm and “Zoolander 2” certainly has its moments. There are more giggles here than belly-laughs, but even giggles have to count for something.
Ben Stiller is back as writer/director and stars as pea-brained male model Derek Zoolander. Derek has been driven into seclusion thanks to irrelevancy, but he, along with his rival-turned-best-bud Hansel (Owen Wilson) are called back into action by European fashionista Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig in a brilliant, overly-botoxed performance).
But today’s fashion world feels somehow less ridiculous than it did at the turn of the millennia, so there’s not a lot of new territory to explore in that respect. This is probably why most of the fashion stuff gets nudged to the side and instead, Derek and Hansel find themselves investigating a “Da Vinci Code”– style conspiracy with INTERPOL agent Valentina (played by Penelope Cruz, who I’m pretty sure was cast for her complete inability to pronounce the word “Zoolander”).
There’s also some stuff with Derek trying to reconnect with his estranged son Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold) that tries to give the movie a little heart, but mostly falls flat.
We also get the triumphant return of Will Ferrell as the villainous Mugatu. His frustration at matching wits with morons is still a joy to watch and probably the best thing about the movie.
As with any middling sequel, you get a few too many callbacks to the first movie and some bits that go completely nowhere (like Fred Armisen as an 11-year-old personal assistant named VIP).
But there are some really inspired moments as well, including everything involving Hansel’s relationship with his orgy. This movie is also packed completely to the gills with cameos, so much to the point, there is bound to be at least somebody you like that is associated with this movie.
“Zoolander 2” is a sequel that ultimately fails to justify why it needed to exist nearly a decade-and-a-half after the fact, but it does manage to wring out just enough entertainment value to be enjoyable, especially for fans of the first movie. Who knows, you might run into your friend Billy Zane while you’re there.
“Zoolander 2” is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language.