It's always hard to recapture the magic. Comedy sequels – especially those that come may years after the original – rarely work as well as the first film did (Anchorman 2 is a perfect example). The original Zoolandr did OK at the box office on its release in 2001, but it went on to be a cult hit on DVD. For me, the problem with Zoolander was that it was poking fun at something that is already utterly ridiculous – the fashion industry has always been nothing but a massive joke, so you have to work twice as hard to get any laughs. Thankfully, Zoolander 1 managed to generate quite a few decent laughs, and the sequel is also more hit than miss.
With his wife dead and his son taken from him, former fashion model Derek Zoolander (Stiller) has become recluse, living the life of a hermit (crab) in the frozen Arctic wilds of Northern New Jersey. Former colleague and best buddy Hansel (Wilson) has also left the modelling world, after a tragic accident "disfigured" his beautiful face. But they are lured out of hiding by Billy Zane, and sought out by Interpol's head of fashion police, agent Valentina (Cruz), to help when some of the world's most beautiful pop stars – Maddonna, Beiber, Usher, Kravitz – are murdered. The only clue being left is a final selfie done with Zoolander's signature Blue Steel pout. There's also a subplot about Derek searching for his long-lost son, who turns up in a Roman orphanage for some reason.
The biggest problem with Z2 is that it's just too busy – it's stuffed full of too many plots, too many cameos, that all too often jokes just don't get the time to land before they have moved on. That said, there are enough jokes that do land to keep an audience laughing, or at least releasing a titter or two, for its compact 102-minute running time. The film really comes alive when that evil fashion criminal Mugatu (Ferrell) returns. Ferrell is very much a hit-or-miss actor, but here – as with Z1 – his poofy-haired Mugatu is a total hit, and reason enough alone to see the film. Also first rate are Cruz, having as much fun as she can with the slim material, and a surprising Sting – who knew he actually had a sense of humour? Also surprising are the cameos from many big names in the fashion world – the likes of Valentino, Marc Jacobs, Anna Wintour, Tommy Hilfiger and Vera Wang. Don't they realise that the film is poking fun at them? Or are they just as clueless as the title character?
Zoolander 2 is all very silly and, 15 years on, probably quite pointless. But it's fun enough for the average Saturday-night date-night audience – and, like its predecessor, is likely to do very well indeed once it hits the home entertainment circuit.