Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Catching Up on Zs

After the hammering it received from the critics, I passed on seeing Zoolander 2 in the theater earlier this year. But since the first Zoolander was good for a surprising number of laughs, I had to give the sequel a shot once it arrive on home video. Though probably not as bad as its paltry Rotten Tomatoes score would indicate, it certainly fell short of the first film.

Plot not being of tremendous importance in either Zoolander film, I won't bother to summarize the sequel's story. It's a framework for jokes, and that's about it. Unfortunately, most of the jokes miss. The script feels very self-conscious, as though the writers have spent the last 15 years data-mining the most often quoted dialogue from the first Zoolander and are trying futilely to retro-engineer similar gags this time around. Derek's malapropisms, Mugatu's extended improv riffs, the callbacks to funny music cues from the original (Wham, Frankie Goes to Hollywood)... they all land with a dull thud.

But the movie is not devoid of laughs either. On-screen captions that identify some of the locations are quietly hilarious. There are plenty of good sight gags when Owen Wilson's Hansel kicks into super-spy mode. I never seemed to tire of Kristen Wiig's new character Atoz -- specifically, her bizarre accent. And a fake commercial near the middle of the film is a twisted highlight.

There are also entertaining celebrity cameos throughout. Revealing most would be spoiling the fun, particularly when you would never guess some of the people who show up. Still, I think it's fair to say that Kiefer Sutherland bringing his full Jack Bauer intensity and gravitas to this ludicrous material might be justification enough for the whole endeavor.

Overall, though, the movie never really gets to firing on all cylinders. If you enjoyed the first Zoolander and won't get too restless when the pauses between laughs get long, this could be worth your time. But I'd say it's a middle of the road C.

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