Zoolander (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/11/2001

Four out of five stars
Running time: 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 moments.

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 plot…

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.

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Zoolander (12)
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