Is there more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?
For starters, how about being in a movie that isn't a festering shitpile?
I'm not exactly sure what I expected walking into Zoolander 2. I didn't expect it to be necessarily good, that's for sure. After all, attempting to capture comedy lightning in a bottle twice usually doesn't work out very well. But, at worst, I expected an inoffensive and middle-of-the-road second outing, in the vein of Anchorman: The Legend Continues or The Hangover Part II, or, at best, Ghostbusters 2.
What I got, however, was an incoherent fashion disaster, something that makes legendarily awful romps like Burn Hollywood Burn and Transylvania 6-5000 look desirable by rate of comparison. Yes, Ben Stiller's second outing as the dim-witted male model Derek Zoolander is somehow worse than Gina Davis' vampire tits.
Where to even begin with this hot mess? I would summarize the plot here, but one is barely present. From what I could gather between the incoherent non-sequiters and jokes that are aborted pre-punchline, Zoolander 2 is about Zoolander and Hansel breaking back into the fashion world for their own reasons. Zoolander wants to prove that he's a good father, Hansel wants to find his father. That's about it. I mean, there's some patently moronic stuff about a chosen prophet of male models, a secret agency dedicated to protecting pop stars, and some other ill-conceived garbage that was probably funnier as a concept than it ever is in execution
Which, honestly, could be said for the entire excruciating experience that is Zoolander 2. On paper, I'm sure it seemed like a great idea for Ben Stiller to follow up one of his most beloved films. But when you think about it, when you really think about it, there's nothing there to follow up. Zoolander is a single-joke idea: male models are fucking stupid, and the fashion world is, surprise, also fucking stupid. That's about it. There's nothing else there.
Consequently, Zoolander 2 is exactly that: a movie with nothing there. All of the jokes have been told before. Shot-for-shot, jokes are repeated from the first film, with barely any alteration to them. They're meant to serve as callbacks, I guess, but they fail and end up feeling like nothing morethan desperate ploys to remind viewers how good the first film was. They, instead, produce the opposite effect. I'll never be able to watch the first film again without thinking of this crusty fuckshow.
It's made worse by the fact that the actual original jokes just aren't funny. Zoolander 2's attempts at remaining relevant to today's youth are laughable at best, and downright mean-spirited at worst. Jabs at Justin Bieber seem like they were written four years ago. Potshots at Malala are unnecessary and unfunny. Benedict Cumberbatch's ugly turn as a trans character feels like something that an edgy thirteen year-old would come up with on Reddit. None of the original's manic spirit and sharp upward jabs are present, and instead, we get limp dick-slaps at low-hanging fruit in a desperate attempt to make us laugh. None of those attempts ever pan out. The audience I sat in only laughed at one or two early gags, and the rest of the time, we all sat in awkward silence, with bated breath, waiting for something moderately humorous to happen.
It never did, despite the films' insistence that a veritable gangbang of cameos can function as actual humor. The movie gradually gets worse as it goes on. By the last thirty minutes, I found myself wishing the whole thing would just be over, but it kept limping along until it slumped over in defeat at its messy, moronic conclusion. I'm sure there was some hilarious bonus scene after the main credit roll, but I had to escape Will Ferrell dancing to a dubstep remix of "Relax (Don't Do It)" over the credits.
This is all to say nothing of the all-around amateurish production here. The CGI is some of the worst I've seen in a major release. The editing is downright laughable, with multi-second gaps between dialogue exchanges. The soundtrack, when it's not using songs to regurgitate jokes from the first film, is generic dub-step garbage and not much else.
I could keep going. I could list all the ways that Zoolander 2 was unfunny, uninspired, and unworthy of its very existence. I could wish ill-will on Stiller and writer Justin Theroux. But why make the effort? Clearly, no effort was put into the production of this shambling, rotted carcass of comedy, so why put any more effort into talking about it?
Zoolander 2 is easily one of the worst films I've ever felt violate my visual and auditory senses. The only positive I could glean from it is that nothing else released this year can possibly be this miserable of an experience. In other words, it's most likely all uphill from here, folks.
For my sanity's sake, I sure hope I'm right.