Newest Review: ... movie playing Hansel. Certainly no stranger to the comedy world and in this film he plays a sort of hippie-like model, the competitor Der... more
He's Got The Look!
Member Name: Mauri
Date: 06/10/07, updated on 04/06/09 (166 review reads)
Advantages: Very funny in parts
Disadvantages: Maybe a little too long
Zoolander is one of those films that I didn't think I'd like but on watching it I was pleasantly surprised, the story is ridiculous even by spoof thriller standards but what I think saves the film is the excellent Stiller and some great supporting performances around him specifically from Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell.
The story centres on Derek Zoolander the number one male model in the world, the undisputed king of the catwalks or at least he has been for the last few years until the 'hot' newcomer 'Hansel' beats him by winning the prestigious title of Male Model of the Year. This sparks a crisis of confidence in Zoolander and thoughts of retirement. As he puts it...
"Is more to life than being "really really really good looking?" and he wants to do some good and start a "school for kids who can't read....good".
However salvation apparently is at hand when the illustrious and reclusive fashion design guru Mugatu offers Zoolander the chance of a huge comeback by fronting his new " Derelicte" (tramp look derelicts get it!) fashion line. Zoolander agrees but what he doesn't realise is that the evil Mugatu is using him in a fiendish plan to assassinate the Malaysian Premier to stop him clamping down on child labour in the far east sweat shops. Will Zoolander be able to resist? His one ally is beautiful Time magazine journalist Matilda who is working on a feature about him. She soon realise that something is wrong with Zoolander but will she be able to save him?
To say this film is a satire on the fashion industry is a massive understatement as it mercilessly ridicules every aspect of the fashion world revealing it and the people involved as being at best empty headed morons at worst evil self obsessed manipulative sociopaths. The strangest thing and the most telling fact about the fashion industry is that despite the fierce parody you still don't feel that it is a million miles away from the truth!
Having said all this most people will probably just think of this film as a fairly dumb slapstick comedy and that's fine since despite whatever 'message' it might be presenting about the fashionistas in essence it is a dumb yet enjoyable slapstick comedy a cross between Austin Powers and The Manchurian Candidate.
Ben Stiller who directed and co wrote the film gives as usual an energetic performance full of slapstick laughs as the airhead model who in his own limited way starts to see the superficiality of his life. Originally Stiller created the character for the 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards and decided that there was a potential for a full length film.
Owen Wilson a regular sidekick to Stiller in many other films (Meet the Parents, Starsky and Hutch) is also very good as the equally superficial but more spiritual hippie trippy new kid on the block. As in so many of their films it is the chemistry generated between them that keeps the overall project on track.
Will Ferrell is almost surreal as the over the top Bond like baddie Mugatu and here he show much of the promise which a few years later would make him a star in his own right to rival even Stiller and Wilson. There are also some good cameos in the film particularly from David Duchovny of X-files spooky Mulder fame as the 'deep throat' secret informer type. There are also a wealth of famous celebrities such as David Bowie, Garry Shandling, Gwen Stefani, Christian Slater Donald Trump and many more all join in the fun playing themselves.
Visually the film looks very good the costumes are weird and wonderful as you would expect in the world of high fashion but they never quite succeed in parodying the real life creations of the true fashion designer who are beyond parody. The special effects are good as can be seen in the slow motion martial arts sequences which are very amusing.
The film despite being a little patchy does have some great highlights. In particular I'd mention the head to head 'walk off' that Zoolander and Hansel have where they try and outdo each other posing down the catwalk is well done and very funny. My personal favourite is the scene when Zoolander and his other airhead model friends go for a drive to the sound of 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' and stop to refill at a petrol station with hilarious if tragic consequences. Having a disillusioned Zoolander go home to his rough neck mining family including John Voigt as the dad and another of Stiller's sidekicks Vince Vaughn as his older brother, was also inspired. The script is peppered with great one-liners mostly uttered by Stiller most of which achieve the desired result.
The soundtrack helps the action speed along and the use of songs like 'Beat It' by Michael Jackson, He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - Rufus Wainwright and Rockit by Herbie Hancock adds to the intended superficiality of the movie.
Although I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would, It doesn't all work and after a while the running joke of how all the models are simply self obsessed bimbos does wear a bit thin. Some of the jokes are a bit lame and truth be told the film is a tad too long yet despite its flaws it did make me laugh out loud a number times more than many other supposed comedies have recently.
Cast and Technical Bits
Ben Stiller ... Derek Zoolander
Owen Wilson ... Hansel
Christine Taylor ... Matilda Jeffries
Will Ferrell ... Mugatu
Milla Jovovich ... Katinka
Jerry Stiller ... Maury Ballstein
David Duchovny ... J.P. Prewitt
Jon Voight ... Larry Zoolander
Run time: 85mins and it carries a 12 UK certificate.
At the time this review was updated (6/09) 'Zoolander' on dvd can be bought from Amazon.co.uk for just £2.98 (+p&p) , which is good value.
Recommended for those who like Ben Stiller and brainless comedies.
© Mauri 2007
Summary: Austin Powers style spoof spy thriller set in the fashion world