Like its competition ‘Deadpool,’ Zoolander II’ is and endless barrage of one-liners and punch lines. The major difference is that ‘Deadpool’ is hilarious and it is painfully obvious that ‘Zoolander II’ is supposed to be hilarious. I’m one of the people who actually liked the first ‘Zoolander’ film. The satire in it was clever like Stephen Colbert’s 2006 roast of President Bush. ‘Zoolander II’ feels a lot more like Jay Leno’s roast of President Obama where he merely repeated the talking points of pundits (that have been proven false by fact checking rather than telling original jokes in his own way like Seth Meyers did later. Seriously, the jokes in the first film made the audience feel like they’d seen those things themselves and could relate. The jokes in the sequel made the audience feel like they’d read it in a facebook or twitter meme or comment. All of the actors in the movie gave good performances. Maybe it was the editing. Jokes were often set up to where the punch lines were obvious, or they were dragged out because the filmmakers wanted to make sure the audience would get them. Probably the line that got the biggest chuckle out of me was when Will Ferrell says “You’re asking me why I killed Justin Bieber?” but even that was only a chuckle and has more to do with comments on social media than any actual hatred of Justin Bieber.
I just wasn’t laughing. I think a couple people in my theater actually left and probably got a refund. The plot points kept getting more and more absurd like the Garden of Eden having Adam and Eve and Steve: Zoolander Jr, was the chosen one directly descended from Steve and Mugatu has planning an elaborate scheme for 15 years that included an accident that destroyed Derek’s center for kids who can’t read good and killed his wife Matilda, fattening Derek’s son for a ritual sacrifice to lure and kill all of the other major fashion designers. Oh, and Hansel has been wearing a mask since his face was scarred in the accident. It leads up to a gag where there is merely a tiny scratch that makes Derek physically ill. That should have been a funny moment, but it just makes Derek’s idiotic superficial nature even less funny. And Hansel has also been having a group orgy for years and everyone is pregnant including Keifer Sutherland- though he does lose his baby by the end. All of this just comes across as desperate attempts to be funny and it kills any character growth. Too Derek’s credit, he hasn’t had another relationship because he’s still mourning his wife. That character growth his killed when he suddenly decides he is ready to move on because he likes Penelope Cruz’s character’s boobs. That shame is that she has the potential to be a decent character. It was every bit as forced as the romance in ‘Spectre.’
When I saw the teaser and the trailer, I was really looking forward to ‘Zoolander 2.’ Those promos were hilarious. At best, the actual movie is mildly watchable if it happens to come on TV or Netflix and there’s nowhere to go and nothing better to do. Even that is more out of affection for the actors than a desire curiosity to watch the actual movie. The actors and most of the celebrities who made cameos are better than this waste of time. It’s not as bad as ‘Ted 2’ but it still falls into the typical trapping of a comedy sequel where things that got laughs in the original are pale imitations and the story is not an organic continuation of the first film.