Zoolander (2001) – movie review

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Movie Review by Reece De Ville

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Christine Taylor, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller

Director: Ben Stiller

International Male Model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is having a bad day. His friends have been killed in a tragic dancing accident, the diabolically insane fashion designer Mugatu (Will Ferrell) has hypnotised him into assassinating the President of Malaysia, and to cap it all: he’s just lost the VH1 Male Model of The Year Award for the first time for 3 years!

After his appearance at the VH1 Fashion , Stiller’s uber-vain model character has now been fleshed out, made-up and clad in this season’s snakeskin ready for an all out assault on the silver screen.

The story zooms along at a fair old pace as Derek encounters his nemesis: Hansel (Owen Wilson), the new Male Model of The Year. Indeed, possibly the highlight of the entire movie is when both models declare a ‘walk-off’ on the catwalk to settle their differences. It’s here where the real humour of the film lies, in it’s simple but hilarious take on the cat-walking robots of Paris, New York, London and Milan. Also, look out for the guest ‘judge’ of the walk-off competition….(look, you’ll have to watch it for yourself!)

Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and Owen Wilson help to keep the pace from flagging with the help of an often hilarious script which whilst often falling to the dubious standards set by the Farrelly/Wayans brothers, shows both inventiveness and a willingness to mock its own star’s good looks. The inclusion of Christine Taylor’s snooping journalist ‘Matilda’ unfortunately results in the story slowing considerably whenever she’s on screen. You see, when you create such extravagant characters and place them in a fantasy world which is both believable and FUN, it’s difficult to side with what is essentially a DULL representative of the REAL world.

ZOOLANDER is also a family affair with both Stiller’s mother and sister cameoing and a role going to Jerry Stiller, Ben’s father, as fashion agent Maury Ballstein. Will Ferrell’s ‘Mugatu’ adds to the fun with a high energy performance which both amuses and terrifies.

Through all of the humour though, and I did enjoy it, I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps the characters would be more enjoyable in isolation on Saturday Night Live. Like the WAYNE’S WORLD movies before it, ZOOLANDER relies perhaps too heavily on the audience’s love for the characters without worrying too much about plot and characterisation. But, besides any problems the film may have, it’s a darn site more involved and (whisper it) funnier than the usual stock of ‘teen’ movies that are currently being released.

If you’re looking to put a big ol’ smile on your face, then look no further than ZOOLANDER. If you’re looking for an Oscar winning Dustin Hoffman performance, then go see KRAYMER VS KRAYMER and be damned……

4 out of 6 stars