Zoolander (2001) Movie Review

Writer/director Ben Stiller’s Zoolander is a mixed bag. It’s funny as hell when it hits the right note, but drags seemingly forever when Ben Stiller is onscreen for too long, furrowing his forehead at us. The funniest scenes involve other people interacting with Zoolander, but director Stiller sometimes mistakes having his Zoolander character mugging for the camera with actual comedy — it’s not very funny and gets awfully annoying after a while.

Counting among Zoolander’s funnier scenes are those that comes across more like variety show skits than actual scenes within the movie. Skits like when Zoolander and his male supermodel rival, Hansel (Owen Wilson) gets involved in a spontaneous “walk off” where the two models strut down makeshift runways in a twisted version of Simon Says. The 10-minute sequence is hilarious and is easily the funniest thing in the movie.

All that being said, it’s a wonder any of the real-life recognizable models that pops up in Zoolander agreed to do so, since as portrayed by Stiller and his actors, the male model industry consists of brain-dead idiots. Stiller’s Zoolander is chief among the brain-dead models, and Wilson’s Hansel isn’t far behind. In fact, the male models are so stupid that in one funny scene, while putting gas in their car, a group of male models burst out into spontaneous song and dance. The routine turns into a water fight, but instead of water, these dum-dums spray each other with gasoline.

If that wasn’t enough, one of them lights a cigarette while soaking wet with gas, thus killing all the models. How funny is that? Well, as a viewer, it’s pretty funny, but I’m not sure the male modeling industry has that wide berth when it comes to a sense of humor. Luckily for the general audience, it’s scenes like that, and the aforementioned “walk off,” that makes Zoolander worthwhile.

What’s the movie’s plot? Hmm, I could tell you, but then I would be wasting my time. The plot is plain silly and is probably the movie’s real weak point. Why? Because it’s ridiculous (as intended) and it only slows down the movie. The actors involved in the plot, even the usually hilarious Will Ferrell, all turns in dull performances. Christine Taylor, as Matilda, literally suffocates the movie by trying to be serious in a dumb movie. Another notable mention goes to Milla Jovovich as Ferrell’s right hand, uh, woman, Katinka, who mistakes scowling and gritting her teeth as comedy.

In fact, the movie is a treat when it ignores the plot and gives us skits such as the walk off and the gas pump dance routine. So my suggestion is to go into the movie and just pay attention to the skits. Go grab something to eat or go to the bathroom when the “plot” shows its ugly and unfunny face.

Ben Stiller (director)
CAST: Ben Stiller …. Derek Zoolander
Owen Wilson …. Hansel
Will Ferrell …. Jacobim Mugatu
Christine Taylor …. Matilda Jeffries
Jerry Stiller …. Maury Ballstein


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