Reviews

Zoolander

1

America’s next flop model.

What? Zoolander is only just hitting Blu-ray now? To borrow from Will Ferrell’s fashion designer Mugatu, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!”

Then again, this inexplicable delay seems entirely in keeping with a film that was largely ignored on release and has been forced to find its fans on DVD.

Ben Stiller’s third film as director, this lovably silly slice of male-model mockery may be as frothy as an Orange Mocha Frappuccino but it comes armed with more gags than Donatella Versace has handbags.

Originally developed as a skit for the 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards, Stiller and his late co-creator Drake Sather (a stand-up and writer for The Larry Sanders Show and SNL) would be the first to hold their hands up and admit Zoolander is hitting a soft target, given how the world of haute couture is so ripe for lampooning.

But then Stiller’s “really, really, really good-looking” three-time male-model-of-the-year Derek Zoolander is such a glorious creation, it’s churlish to complain. And along with co-writer John Hamburg, Stiller and Sather do tinge their satire with the surreal.

Derek, after all, is a man who can’t turn left on the catwalk, thinks that ‘eulogy’ is pronounced ‘eugoogooly’ and believes he has a range of looks (when in fact the patented ‘Blue Steel’, ‘Ferrari’ and ‘La Tigre’ pouts are all exactly alike).

Even the plot – Derek is brainwashed by Mugatu to kill the Malaysian PM before he banishes sweatshops – has a woozy, off-kilter feel to it. Factor in Owen Wilson’s rival model Hansel, the yin to Derek’s yang, and Zoolander rarely goes for the obvious.

Adding authenticity are a wealth of cameos from the worlds of fashion (Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger), music (Lenny Kravitz, David Bowie) and film (Winona Ryder, Natalie Portman, the latter  telling us Derek is “almost too good-looking”).

More fun, however, are the more obscure spots – Stiller’s Tropic Thunder scribe Justin Theroux as the Evil DJ, an uncredited Vince Vaughn as Derek’s coal-miner brother and True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård as his roommate Meekus (“Uh, Earth to Brint!”).

Some gags, like the 2001: A Space Odyssey parody, when Hansel and Derek are trying to crack open an iMac, haven’t improved with age.

Some characters (Christine Taylor’s drab Time reporter, Milla Jovovich’s henchwoman) are also very one-note. But when you’ve got one of Will Ferrell’s finest performances to back up the Stiller/Wilson double-act, what more do you need?

Well, Zoolander 2 would be nice. It’s in the works, apparently. But for the moment, Derek looking good in high-def will do just nicely.

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