Here I am again. Typing out another review to a long-awaited comedy sequel to a cult classic I love. Everything seems to be a cash grab these days, and the idea of lightning striking twice seems pretty much impossible. So did Zoolander 2 ever really have a chance? Certainly of all the potential comedy sequels out there, a sequel to Zoolander had the most potential. With characters so silly and plots so outrageous, the possibilities are endless. So does Zoolander 2 manage to soar above the other wasted opportunity comedy sequels of the last few years? I'll just tell you the answer straight up. No. No, it does not. It takes a leap and falls on its stupid face. I take no delight in being the bearer of bad news to declare that Zoolander 2 is absolutely terrible.
Zoolander 2 is set in the present day but fills us in on the events that took place after the first film. Derek and Hansel are now estranged and pop stars are being killed all around the globe. It's up to Fashion Interpol Agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz) to find the now hermit Derek Zoolander to help solve the mystery and save the world or something (at least the world of fashion anyway.) So what exactly are Zoolander 2's offenses you ask? Well firstly, it fits that phrase that EVERY critic loves to throw around: "painfully unfunny." It was at least 20 minutes before I let out a single laugh... or smirk. In fact, all in all, I think I can count on one hand how many times I laughed throughout the film. Secondly, I'm getting really sick of sequels that undo all the hard-fought victories of the first film within a couple of minutes. What they decided to do with these characters is just atrocious, whether it's in the exposition or the convoluted mess that follows. It's incredibly stupid from the get-go, but you'd be amazed at how much worse it gets.
For a free screening, I definitely contemplated leaving quite a few times. Most puzzling of all though that the film gets wrong is the character of Mugatu. Easily one of my favorite parts of the first film, Will Ferrell almost seems to have forgotten the character completely. He's got some of the facial ticks down, but his voice is all wrong (though to his credit, the real Mugatu occasionally seeps through his performance, but far too seldom.) The LEAST you could have done to prepare for your role is re-watching the performance you gave in the first film.
Zoolander 2's problem is that it's living in the shadow of a far greater predecessor. Every gag or sequence that was great in the original tries to be duplicated here and only ever pales in comparison. Often because there's no straight man the audience can identify with to laugh at the shenanigans of our two foolish leads. In absence of these grounded characters? They threw in shameless celebrity cameos (illustrating just one more thing that the original was able to do naturally, that felt forced in the sequel.) If I HAD to say something positive? Uh, I enjoyed the kid who plays Derek Junior? Also, half of the audience will enjoy the eye candy of Penelope Cruz, but I am not among that audience. Zoolander 2 makes me want to watch its FAR superior predecessor and forget this mess ever happened.