In 2001, Ben Stiller created a male model so dumb he doused a car with petrol and was surprised it burned to dust.
Zoolander 2 is the feature film equivalent of that one scene – Stiller somehow failed to realise that when the only thing a film has in its favour is a bunch of old gags and celebrity cameos it’s going to go up in flames.
The sequel follows still ‘really, really ridiculously good-looking’ Derek Zoolander a decade after the his wife’s tragic death in a building made of paddle pop sticks.
In the ensuing years his child has been taken from him, and the now retired model has relocated to ‘extreme northern New Jersey’ to live life as a ‘hermit crab’.
But a visit from Billy Zane sees Zoolander and old friend Hansel (Owen Wilson) headed to Italy to take part in a new show by the industry’s biggest fashion designer Atoz (a truly terrifying Kristen Wiig).
Zoolander is also sought by Interpol agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz in a role far beneath her talents), as one of the model’s signature looks – ‘Aqua Vitae’ – is being used in celebrity selfies seconds before the pop stars are killed.
One of the greatest joys of the film in fact is seeing Justin Bieber killed off.
The joys though are few and far between.
There’s a Rocky Horror Picture Show reference when Susan Sarandon pops up, Justin Theroux sporting a British accent and a number of real-life fashion figures testing our their acting chops.
The lowlights though are like finding hay in a haystack.
The film has next to no plot, and when all is revealed it still doesn’t make sense.
While the first film actually had some commentry on the modelling and fashion industries, Zoolander 2 forgets all that and tries to push technology jokes that fall flat – a gag about ‘farm-to-table wi-fi’ is cringeworthy at best.
Benedict Cumberbatch as the androgynous model named All, as seen in the trailers, is the closest attempt the film makes to reflect modern fashion, though his appearance too leaves much to be desired.
Even Will Ferrell’s return as Mugatu – fresh from fashion prison – is awful.
Zoolander should have retired for real and put us all out of our misery.
The film is utter ridiculousness, and not in the charming, cultish way of the original, but in the should-have-never-ever-been-made-in-a-thousand-years way.
It really, really should not have been made.
It’s just as well Derek Zoolander literally doesn’t have the vocabulary to respond to insults, because there will be a lot coming his way.
Zoolander 2 is in cinemas now and is rated M.