Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Trip To A Pathetic Zoo: Zoolander Doesn't Impress Me!

The Good: Moments of humor, David Bowie cameo
The Bad: Lame characters, Idiotic plot, Utter lack of decent acting
The Basics: A pathetic mockery of slave labor and a pointless male modeling industry, Zoolander puts dimwitted model Derek Zoolander in a precarious position of being brainwashed to kill.

[Note: Three times is not a charm. This morning, to cleanse our palates after watching "Citizen Kane" (reviewed here!), my wife and I watched "Zoolander" again. This was my third time watching it and we picked it off her shelf because while reviewing "True Blood" Season 3 (that's here!), I learned that one of her favorite actors from the show - Alexander Skarsgard - was in "Zoolander." So we watched it again. Yes, he's in it. No, it does not make the movie better. I stand by my original review, which I wrote almost a decade ago now! Enjoy!]

I don't think I realized how terrible Zoolander was until I watched all of the extras on the DVD. If one wishes to, one may watch the VH1 Fashion Awards sketches Ben Stiller did in which he originated the character of Derek Zoolander. Between those two sketches and the trailer for the film, the entire movie is presented.

Zoolander follows the dimwitted male model Derek Zoolander, as he loses his established success in the modeling world to a new, grungier-looking male model, Hansel. Zoolander becomes the target of an international fashion industry conspiracy to kill the liberal Prime Minister of Malaysia. Betrayed by his agent, Maury, to the infamous Mugatu, Zoolander is brainwashed to become an assassin with the Prime Minister as his target. And the only one who can figure all of this out is investigative reporter Matilda Jefferies.

The laundry list of problems with Zoolander begins with the problem of trying to take a pair of five minute skits and extending them into a feature length film. I watched the sketches and laughed. All of the best jokes in the Zoolander were from the two Fashion Award skits. And that's just plain pathetic. It's a tough thing to realize that the best moments of humor were done before the film ever began.

It's even more unconscionable that those going through the effort of making this film would not develop it with the goal to expand on the skits, rather than anchor the film with the jokes that were already out there.

The high point of the movie was easily the surprise cameo by David Bowie who appears as himself to judge a runway contest between Hansel and Zoolander. It takes the viewer out of the film and allows us a moment of genuine humor.

But even the David Bowie cameo is indicative of the problems of Zoolander. Too many of the characters are actors either doing rolls they have already done or actors playing themselves. Jerry Stiller, for example, plays Maury Ballstein is acting almost identically to his portrayal of George Costanza's father in Seinfeld. It's disturbing that no one bothered to utilize his talents as an actor, instead forcing him to recycle another character he played.

Similarly, Will Ferrell is used in an excessively disappointing manner. Ferrell does not act as Mugatu. Instead, he's playing Will Ferrell. Ferrell is a screwball comedian and his acting talents either are not used or are used poorly as the outtakes where he flubs lines are almost identical to his performances in the film. They are also identical to his performance in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back. Therefore, he's not acting. That's not to say he's not funny, but he's not doing anything he hasn't done in anything else he has ever done.

Even Ben Stiller fails to deliver after the first five minutes of the film. Alas, he can't sustain the complete idiot that Zoolander appears to be. And he can't sustain the idiocy that is this film.

The parody of fashion models is a one trick pony. That is, once you've played the "male model is an idiot" card, it's played. Zoolander attempts to make the same joke over and over again. Within fifteen minutes into the film, the same joke is repeated no less than a dozen times. It's simply not funny after a point.

Zoolander is an idiotic attempt to extend two skits into a feature film wherein a prejudice against male models is played out with a ridiculous plot involving genuine social issues being mocked. The issue of Malaysian slave labor funding a pointless American fashion industry is made fun of, but never intelligently addressed. It's insulting that Zoolander uses this forum to even mention it.

For other works with Will Ferrell, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
The Other Guys
Step Brothers
Family Guy - Season 4


For other movie reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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