Zoolander is one of the greatest comedies, spinning out its Glamorama-esque premise from a satirical take on male modelling into a deconstruction of masculinity and a surrealistic degradation of plot, where David Bowie adjudicates “walk offs” and the perfect look stops a high-velocity shuriken. Perhaps most importantly, it’s also hilarious, packed to the brim with hilarious quotes.
Its follow-up, Zoolander No. 2, is really, really, ridiculously bad.
For starters, it’s the worst kind of fan service, taking every great joke from the original – Hansel’s fascination with Sting, Billy Zane’s cameo, “orange mocha frappuccinos!” – and trotting them out again in a vain attempt to prompt laughs of recognition. The original jokes are even worse, defined by fat-shaming, transphobia and sexism alike. The problem isn’t even that they’re offensive – though the pitch-perfect transgression of the first film is sorely missed – but that they jokes just aren’t funny.
Does anything work? I kind of want to acknowledge Stiller’s work as director, successfully aping the James Bond-meets-Da Vinci Code aesthetic the screenplay is going for … but given how incredibly misguided that aesthetic is (we want jokes, not action), it’s very much a backhanded compliment. Relax; don’t do it – just watch the original again.