Ben Stiller returns 15 years later to direct the sequel to one of the last decade cult comedies. It will be just a commercial operation or also a re-quality films?
Fifteen years have passed since Derek Zoolander was considered the most famous fashion model. His responsibilities for the death of his wife and the custody of their child to social services have moved the ex ridiculously good-looking man, starring Ben Stiller, to a hermit’s life in the mountains.
In a desert halfway around the world the other former fashion legend Hansel, aka Owen Wilson, faces a deep family crisis. Together with a bewitching fashion Interpol agent, Penelope Cruz, they will return to a high fashion world they no longer recognize to foil a plot against the most famous pop stars and win back the love of their families.
The first Zoolander, released in theaters in conjunction with the 9/11 attacks and initially snubbed by the critics, has earned over the years, thanks to a successful afterlife on DVD and streaming services, the cult status.
With its mix of slapstick silliness, gentle satire at the fashion industry, and superficial narcissist characters, had anticipated the rise of selfies culture.
There were all the prerequisites for a new good result, and a strong marketing campaign made of world record selfie stick and fashion shows at the Fashion Week in Paris, contributed to further increase the hype for this sequel.
Unfortunately this Zoolander 2 betrays precisely in those that had been the ingredients of its success. The exaggerated pursuit of paroxysm dilutes the strength of satire in hitting the vices of modern society.
The main characters, deprived of the their spontaneous stupidity by a botched emotional depth, are reduced to trivial caricatures.
The plot with its development as a crime story with biblical background, tries to hint at Dan Brown with an Austin Power style. The result is a jumble of different genres whose sense of confusion is increased by the several cameos of famous actors, singers and even affirmed fashion designers.
The film though rarely tickle (the parody of perfume advertising is brilliant) still manages to make smile thanks to the settled harmony between Stiller and Wilson, and to smart choices of costumes and vocabulary, which reach their highest point in the excellent character played by Kristen Wiig. The magnificent Roman locations where the story is set are well-aimed too.