CGB Review of Zoolander 2 (2016)

I feel like I lost a few IQ points.  I kind of need those to review movies.

This is my review of Zoolander 2!

Zoolander-2-Trailer-1068x613

Two days after the events of the first Zoolander, the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Want To Learn To Do Other Things Good (try saying that ten times fast) collapsed and killed Derek’s wife Matilda Jeffries-Zoolander, as well as disfigured Hansel’s face.  In addition, a damning video of Zoolander being unable to feed his son has resulted in the child being removed from his custody.  Ten years after all of those events, there have been a slew of celebrities being murdered with the only clue being Zoolander’s “blue steel” look.  Zoolander comes out of hiding, reunites with Hansel, and ends up on an adventure to solve the celebrity murders and get his son back.

Did that feel like a ton of exposition to you?  Yeah, imagine being hit with all this information in the first five minutes of the film.
Anyway, I happened to enjoy the first Zoolander movie quite a bit.  It’s not great like Star Wars, but as an absurdist comedy, it holds up pretty well.
An hour before I left with my family to see Zoolander 2, the great Kelsey Hazzard from Secular Pro-Life posted this: “Sad to say Zoolander 2 was awful. Should not have been made. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s cameo made it bearable.”
I braced myself for a painful viewing experience.
By the way, be sure to check out my friends over at Secular Pro-Life (here’s their website  http://www.secularprolife.org/).  They have great articles and have teamed up with other nontraditional pro-life groups (Pro-Life Pagans, Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, Democrats for Life of America, etc.,) to support to cause of defending the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.
Okay, on with the review!

The Hits
In keeping with the outlandish spirit of the original Zoolander, this sequel did not disappoint.  The superficiality and randomness got many laughs from me.
The young man who plays Derek Jr. is actually pretty good.  He carried the role surprisingly well as the straight man to his father’s idiocy.  The actor’s name is Cyrus Arnold and I do hope he gets more work in the future.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s cameo is amazing!  Then again, Benedict Cumberbatch is just spectacular in whatever he does, even if it is a ten minute cameo.  You could cast him as the mailman and he would still steal the show!
I will give the movie this: While it may be random, it was never boring.  Zoolander 2 has not a dull moment.  The plot flows well and even the filler has a purpose.
I like how Derek Zoolander has matured somewhat while still maintaining his naiveté.  He has a better grasp on what is happening around him, but hasn’t strayed too far from his lovable moron persona.  Out of all the characters, he is the only protagonist who has developed since the first flick.

The Misses
In television, there’s a trope called Flanderization.  I think I may have talked about it before.  Now where did I put that?  (Looks through archives) Ah, here it is!
Flanderization is defined by the TV Tropes website as “The act of taking a single (often minor) action or trait of a character within a work and exaggerating it more and more over time until it completely consumes the character. Most always, the trait/action becomes completely outlandish and it becomes their defining characteristic” (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Flanderization).
What’s my point?  There is a lot of flanderization going on.  In the first film, Hansel’s appreciation for–how do I put this delicately?–orgies was a single gag that lasted for one scene.  Here, it’s part of his story arch.  By the third time we saw members of his orgy, those characters had overstayed their welcome.  However, the biggest victim of flanderization is Mugatu.  In my review of the original Zoolander, I said that I wished we saw more of Mugatu.  Well, this movie delivered all right…and I immediately regret that wish.  Mugatu is not only more annoying, but has upped his stupidity to where he becomes insufferable very quickly.  His voice is downright grating in the film’s climax.
Where the premise of the original was pretty straightforward, this sequel is way overcomplicated.  There are too many lame twists and loose ends are either lazily explained away or just dropped.  I think I may have said, “Wait, what’s this movie about again?” at least twice.

To be clear, I didn’t hate Zoolander 2.  If I had to choose between watching Zoolander 2 or Aloha (twitches), I’d pick Zoolander 2 in a heartbeat.  That being said, if I had seen Zoolander 2 by myself, I probably would’ve walked down the hall and snuck into a screening of Deadpool or Star Wars instead.  I don’t regret watching Zoolander 2, but I certainly won’t be seeing it again any time soon.

Saint Genevieve, pray for us.

CGB Review of Zoolander (2001)

So when can I enroll my future children into the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good?

This is my review of Zoolander!

zoolander

Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is a superstar in the world of male modeling.  However, after winning Male Model of the Year award three years in a row, he finds himself going downhill.  When he is bested by hot newcomer Hansel (Owen Wilson), Zoolander searches for new meaning in his life.  A second chance comes in the form of Mugatu, an eccentric fashion czar who offers Derek a shot at a comeback by making him the face of his new “Derelicte” clothing line.  However, it turns out that Mugatu has a far more sinister plan for Zoolander, which involves using him to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The Hits
The most important question when reviewing a comedy is this: “Is it funny?”  Even though this movie came out fifteen years ago, it had me on the floor, dying from laughter.  The premise is ridiculously hilarious with creative jokes, perfect timing and is easy to get invested in all thanks to Ben Stiller’s whacky performance as the moron with a heart of gold.  Derek Zoolander is a great example of how to write a lovable dimwit correctly.  He is dense but not annoying, strangely innocent and naïve without becoming childish, and I like how the only thing he is good at is modeling.  If he was a failure in everything, then it would make him an incompetent protagonist.  I also appreciate how he has never been late for a show; his commitment to his craft is believable and makes him the best person to guide us through the bizarre narrative.
Will Ferrell’s Mugatu is an excellent comedic villain!  A self-absorbed fashionista with an off-the-wall hairdo and bulging eyes, Mugatu serves as a foil to Derek Zoolander; where Derek is a good-natured halfwit, Mugatu is a shady designer with guile.
I like Christine Taylor’s Matilda Jeffries as the film’s straightman/woman.  An outlandish story like this needs an Average Joe character to balance out the weirdness.  Matilda is professional without being standoffish, inquisitive without ever becoming intrusive; she is a great everywoman and a good friend to Zoolander.
The idea that male models were designed to be assassins is really funny.  When this bit of exposition is revealed to Derek and Matilda, I went into a laughing fit.  I love how it is explained in a way that makes the notion somewhat believable while still emphasizing how insane it is.

The Misses
Okay, can we talk about the whole “Derek can’t turn left” part of the story?   I’ve watched this movie twice and both times, I saw Ben Stiller turning his head left to talk to other characters the entire time.  Seriously, this is kind of a big continuity error.
I really like Mugatu and I kind of feel that we didn’t get to see enough of him.  I’m not saying that he needed to be in every scene, but we see him for a few minutes in the opening scene, then he’s in a handful of other scenes and then he kind of disappears for a while until the climax.  It would have been nice to have given the main villain a little more screen time.

Zoolander is an offbeat delight!  The characters are lovable, the tone is clear in its absurdity and the costumes and makeup are the best I’ve seen since last year’s Cinderella film.  I will definitely be watching this again and am looking forward to Zoolander 2!

Saint Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.