“Zoolander 2” may be the first movie in history to have more celebrity cameos than it has actual actors playing parts and the overabundance of gimmicky walk-ons is symptomatic of a film desperately in search of a story worth telling. This isn’t the sharp-edged, expertly curated haute couture collection of screwball satire we didn’t fully appreciate back in 2001 – this is more like the cheap knock-off, fake designer gear which may superficially look like the real thing but falls apart thanks to lazy manufacturing and shoddy stitching. With the overlap of vacuous celebrity and fashion having grown exponentially in the past fifteen years, there’s ample fodder for “Zoolander 2” to take a swipe at, so it’s particularly disappointing that it feels blunter than before, ignoring the ludicrous excesses of vanity couture in favour of recycling nearly everything from the first movie and passing it off as new again.
While content to plunder its own legacy for jokes to make threadbare, it’s no respecter of the story, unpicking the happy ending of the first movie in a montage staged over the opening credits. Having effectively rewound the narrative clock to the point where Derek has quit the fashion world, “Zoolander 2” then reveals its tired, lazy ‘big idea’. You see, “Zoolander 2” is to “Zoolander” what “Cars 2” was to “Cars”. There’s a bizarre, uninspired and stupid (but not in a funny way) spy/ crime concept driving the plot along, clumsily shoehorned alongside all the gags from the first film reshuffled into a slightly different order.
Stiller and Wilson feel like they’re phoning it in and – forgive me Carrie Fisher – have aged noticeably in the decade and a half since the first film yet this is barely acknowledged in the film nor mined for amusement or commentary on the fashion world’s obsession with youth. There’s mild amusement provided by new cast members such as Kristen Wiig (although her accent goes beyond a joke) and Will Ferrell injects much needed energy once he makes his shouty reappearance but it’s not enough to save this misfire.
Lazy, uninspired and ultimately unnecessary, this sequel is as poorly constructed as The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too apparently was and has nothing new to say, whilst lacking the ability to freshen up the old. While the original “Zoolander” will remain a cult classic, this second collection of the same material fails to make it off the runway.