“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” So said Harry Winston, the American diamond merchant. There’s little to stare at in Zoolander 2, a who-asked-for-it sequel to the enjoyably stupid, highly quotable 2001 fashionista comedy that was no more or less than an extended Saturday Night Live skit – one of the genuinely funny ones, that is.
Like the first Zoolander, the movie lives or dies by the comic interplay between two hopelessly moronic, egocentric, aging male supermodel twits played by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Unlike the first Zoolander, this one is big, bloated and rarely funny. Both actors seem game but the funny just doesn’t happen.
Stiller, who has turned up in some of worst film sequels in recent memory (the Focker franchise, those Night at the Museum and Madagascar things), co-wrote, directed and stars in this one. The flimsy plot has the planet’s most beautiful pop stars – including, on camera, Justin Bieber — being bumped off by mysterious assassins. These outrages shake Stiller’s really, really ridiculously good-looking character out of his self-described “hermit crab” seclusion in the snowy mountains of “extremely northern New Jersey” and Wilson’s character out of communal life in Malibu with a menagerie of post-orgy mates that includes Kiefer Sutherland and various livestock.
The two get summoned to Rome by the heavily Botox’d Donatella-esque haute couture queen Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) to join forces with a slinky and mysterious Interpol agent (Penelope Cruz) in stopping the killings of the rich, pretty and famous. Says Wilson of Cruz, “She’s hot. I trust her.” Nice. Really, most of the scattershot jokes are sufficiently idiotic but the insanely over-plotted movie has zero bite or drive, let alone anything new to say about the mind-numbing vapidity of those who worship celebrity or fashion.
Wiig is bizarre and hilarious, as is Fred Armisen, but it’s the fastball improvisations of Will Ferrell, who again plays the tantrum-prone designer Mugatu, that effortlessly steal the show. Too bad most of the running time is spent tying up the loose ends of a boring plotline and logging endless celebrity cameos. If Zoolander 2 were a high-ticket fragrance, it would be called Desperation.