Zoolander

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The dim-witted but good-natured Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is ousted as the top male fashion model by the rising star, Hansel McDonald (Owen Wilson), and his reputation is further tarnished by a critical article from journalist Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor). After his three roommates and colleagues are killed in a “freak gasoline-fight accident”, Derek announces his retirement from modeling and attempts to reconnect with his father Larry (Jon Voight) and brothers Luke (Vince Vaughn) and Scrappy (Judah Friedlander) by helping in the coal mines. Derek’s delicate methods make him an impractical miner, and his family rejects him.

Meanwhile, fashion mogul Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) and model agent Maury Ballstein (Jerry Stiller) are charged by the fashion industry to find a model who can be brainwashed into assassinating the new progressive-leaning Prime Minister of Malaysia, allowing them to retain cheap child labor in the country. Though Mugatu has previously refused to work with Derek for any show, Derek accepts Mugatu’s offer to star in the next runway show. Mugatu takes Derek to his headquarters, masked as a day spa, where Derek is conditioned to attempt the assassination when the song “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood is played. Matilda, who felt partially responsible for Derek’s retirement, is suspicious of Mugatu’s offer, and tipped off by an anonymous caller, tries to enter the spa, but is thrown out. Matilda tries to voice her concerns to Derek once he leaves, but he ignores her.

Matilda follows Derek to a pre-runway show, where he loses to Hansel in a “walk-off” judged by David Bowie. Matilda receives another anonymous call to meet at a nearby cemetery. Matilda along with Derek find the anonymous caller is hand model J.P. Prewett (David Duchovny), who explains that the fashion industry has been behind several political assassinations, and the brainwashed models are soon killed after they have completed their task (J.P. escaped because he himself is a hand model and so is smarter than the “face and body boys” like Derek.) Before J.P. can explain more, Katinka (Milla Jovovich), Mugatu’s tough henchwoman, and her aides attack the group, forcing Derek and Matilda to flee. They decide to go to Hansel’s home, the last place they believe Mugatu will think to look, and Derek, Hansel, and Matilda bond. Matilda admits the reason she hates models is because, as a child, she was bullied for being overweight and developed bulimia, and she believes models hurt people’s self-esteem. Derek and Hansel resolve their differences while partaking of Hansel’s collection of narcotics and participating in group sex with Matilda and others. While recovering, Derek also finds that he is falling in love with Matilda. Derek and Hansel break into Maury’s offices to find evidence of the assassination plot, but cannot operate his computer to find them. Derek leaves for the show, Hansel following later with the computer in hand, believing that, as told to him by Matilda, “the files are in the computer”.

Matilda tries to intercept Derek before the show, but Katinka thwarts her attempt. As Derek takes the runway, Mugatu’s disc jockey starts playing “Relax”, activating Derek’s mental programming. Before Derek can reach the Prime Minister, Hansel breaks into the DJ booth, and switches the music to Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”, breaking Derek’s conditioning. Hansel and the DJ have a brief “breakdance” fight before Hansel eventually unplugs the system, moments before Derek was about to snap the Prime Minister’s neck. Mugatu attempts to cover up the incident, but Hansel offers Maury’s computer as evidence, smashing it to the ground which he believes would release the incriminating files. Though the evidence is destroyed, Maury steps forward and reveals he had backed up the files, and offers to turn over the evidence of the assassination plot after years of guilt for his complicity in the conspiracy. Mugatu attempts to kill the Prime Minister himself by throwing a shuriken, but Derek stops him by unleashing his ultimate model look, “Magnum”, that stuns everyone and causes the shuriken to freeze in the air in front of Derek’s face and fall harmlessly to the ground. At Derek’s hometown, Larry is watching the event on TV, and proudly acknowledges Derek as his son. Mugatu is arrested, and Derek is thanked by the Prime Minister.

In the film’s dénouement, Derek, Hansel, and Maury have left the fashion industry to start “The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too”. Derek and Matilda are shown as now having a son named Derek Zoolander, Jr., who has already developed his first modeling look.

REVIEW:

I have to preface this review by saying that my opinion of Zoolander will forever be tied to 9/11. As I recall, this was originally supposed to be released that weekend, but tragedy struck and it was pushed back a couple of weeks. I even remember wanting to catch Ben Stiller’s interview before class on Live! with Regis and Kelly. Yes, I was really looking forward to this, but never got around to seeing it until now. Nearly 15 years later, will I have the same impression of this picture as I would have had I seen it on the original release date.

What is this about?

The fashion world is turned upside down when beautiful and utterly empty-headed male model Derek Zoolander discovers that fashion mogul Jacobim Mogatu is behind a plot to assassinate the prime minister of Malaysia.

What is this about?

Spoof the industry. Something that has long plagued our society is the unattainable “model” look. That is to say for females to be smaller than a size 0 and males to be had perfect 6 pack abs. Think about your friends, family, and the people you run across in your daily life. Some of them may be attractive, but I would wager non could go on to become models as we know them. The filmmakers don’t necessarily go to the point of pointing this out, but they do let us know that the standards models are expected to maintain are a bit extreme.

It’s a family affair. I’m pretty sure everyone knows this, but Jerry Stiller is Ben Stiller is his son. This is one of the few times I’ve seen them on-screen together (although they’re not father and son). Also, the reporter, played by Christine Taylor, is Ben’s wife. Keeping it in the family is something that we don’t see in films very often. For instance, when was the last time you saw Luke and Owen Wilson in a film together?

Mugatu. I love Will Ferrell best when he goes over the top with his characters. This character he plays, Mugatu, is most definitely over the top, complete with a funny accent and even funnier hair. That’s not to mention his evil intention and the fact that he has a little dog. If Mike Myers ever gets off his ass and brings Austin Powers back, perhaps he should consider Ferrell as a new arch-nemesis. Then again, his ego will never let that happen since he thinks he has to play nearly every character.

What didn’t I like?

The look. It may have been a joke, but the pursed lip look with the sucked in cheeks that Stiller kept using wasn’t working at all. Wait, let me take that back. The first couple of times it was ok, but after awhile he just looked like a deformed fish, much the same way tween girls on Facebook do when they take those fish lip pictures.

Article. In the beginning of the film, the reporter writes a rather scathing article of Zoolander that seemingly ruins him and sets him on a bit of a downward spiral. I found myself wondering what it was that kept her coming back and trying to make it seem as if she and Stiller’s character were close friends after she ripped him apart in that article. He even says something about that, through some messed up pronunciation, along the same lines. Had she penned a different article and it was changed by the magazine, that would be different, but in this case she wrote the mean-spirited article.

Family. Earlier, I spoke of Stiller using his real family in this film. Here a bit of irony, his character’s family is barely used. There is an odd sequence involving his dad, played by Jon Voight, and brothers, but that’s it. I’m not saying that these guys should have been a central focus of the film, but cameos like Tyrese and Billy Zane got more screentime that the family did. That whole segment could have been cut out and it probably wouldn’t have hurt the film in any way.

I wonder what would happen if Zoolander had been made from the female perspective. Chances are it would have ended up in skeletons fighting over lettuce, shoes, and a man, as this more than likely would have devolved into a romantic comedy. As it is, this is one of the few film starring Stiller than I actually enjoyed. It made me laugh, which is something that he doesn’t make me do very often. That being said, I felt this film was holding something back. If it would have just let go with the insanity, I might have enjoyed it better. Do I recommend it? That’s a though one because I enjoyed it, but didn’t love the film. Something is keeping this film from being the great comedy it more than likely could have been. All that said, I guess this is a flick you should check out if you get that bored. I think I’ve recently seen it on VH1, so just hang in there, I’m sure it will pop up on there again, rather than waste a spot in your Netflix queue.

3 1/4 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “Zoolander”

  1. […] gets to crack a joke or two. That is, unless he is doing a cameo or something along the lines of Zoolander. As Walter Mitty, he gets to go back to a bit more serious role, and he shocks all of us that […]

  2. […] ludicrous sequel to Zoolander gets funnier as it goes along and certainly can’t be dismissed as a pointless re-iteration of […]

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