out of five
: 89 mins
Very stupid, but very funny comedy, which manages to draw you in despite
yourself – it’s well-acted, with great lines and several laugh-out-loud
Writer/director/actor Ben Stiller created Derek Zoolander for a sketch on
the VH1 Music Awards show and evidently felt there was enough potential
there to stretch the idea out into a full-length movie. Happily, for the
most part, his instincts turn out to have been right, as Zoolander is very
stupid, but also very funny indeed.
The plot is ridiculously silly, all of which adds to the fun. Stiller plays
America’s top male model Derek Zoolander, owner of the trademarked "Blue
Steel" ‘look’, and, not to put too fine a point on it, several coupons short
of a toaster in the brains department. His life consists of fashion shows
and awards shows, where he is under threat from up-and-coming pretty-boy
‘Hansel’ (Owen Wilson).
However, when he is mysteriously kidnapped for a
day, a pretty investigative journalist (Christine Taylor – Stiller’s
real-life wife) helps Zoolander understand that he’s been brainwashed by a
sinister group of fashionistas, and he gets caught up in an assassination
It’s hard not to like this film, despite the fact that some of it is uneven
and that some of the jokes fall flat. No matter, though, because for every
dud, there is a comic gem waiting around the corner.
Highlights include the
hilarious advert-inspired ‘Orange Mocha Frappucino’ scene (and its
accompanying tragedy); the ‘walk-off’ challenge between Hansel and
Zoolander; and a hilarious scene parodying 2001, in which the two models try
to figure out a computer to the tune of ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’.
The acting is excellent. Stiller speaks with a strange accent throughout and
takes a little getting used to, but delivers the goods admirably. He’s also
a generous director, giving as many laughs to Wilson (excellent as always)
and his support cast as he does to himself.
The support cast is superb, and includes Jerry Stiller (Ben’s Dad), Milla
Jovovich and Will Ferrell, as well as, in brief but amusing cameos, the
likes of Winona Ryder, David Duchovny (sending up his Agent Mulder persona
yet again), David Bowie and Billy Zane (allowing Wilson to deliver the line
"Listen to your friend Billy Zane…").
The script is packed full of hilarious and quotable lines that are almost
certain to be coming to a pub conversation near you soon. Whether it’s
Zoolander mispronouncing ‘eulogy’ as ‘yoogoogly’, or lines such as "What is
this? A centre for ANTS?" (on seeing the model for the Derek Zoolander
Foundation For Kids Who Don’t Read Good and mistaking it for the real
thing), the screenplay is laden with comic gems.
In short, this is well worth seeing and provides a gross-out-gag-free
alternative to Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back. It’s undeniably stupid,
admittedly, but also a lot of fun. Recommended.