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Zoolander (2001)

Did you ever think that maybe there’s more to life than being really, really, really ridiculously good-looking?

Directed by:

Ben StillerBen Stiller

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 89 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United States

As seems to be customary with Ben Stiller flicks, ‘Zoolander’ is a bit of a mixed bag.

Stiller slips into the part of Derek Zoolander, the thick-as-a-post male model who first popped-up in sketch form at the VH-1 Fashion Awards in the late 90s. His OTT pouting and no-brain observations went down a treat in such appropriate surroundings, but piecing together 90 minutes’ worth of material – not to mention working in some sort of plot – from such skeletal beginnings is a different task altogether. As it happens, Stiller makes a valiant effort – but it’s a stretch.

When we join him, Zoolander’s suffering something of a crisis. His 4 year run as “Male Model of the Year” comes to a painful end when sworn rival Hansel (Owen Wilson) scoops the coveted crown, shortly before his three best chums are killed in a bizarre petrol-fight accident. To make matters worse, a barmy fashion guru (Will Ferrell) is planning to brainwash him into murdering the Prime Minister of Malaysia. So, at the very least, you can’t accuse this one of recycling old ideas.

The straight man (or to be more precise, woman) duties are handed to Christine Taylor as the investigative journo planning to expose the fashion world for what it really is. Whatever that might be.

Credit where it’s due, the film’s better moments are guffaw-worthy in the extreme – particularly the catwalk duel,David Duchovny’s brief appearance as an embittered hand model, and the growth of ‘The Derek Zoolander Centre For Kids Who Can’t Read Good’. Owen Wilson is in fantastic form and Stiller’s comic talent has never been in doubt. Unfortunately, such heavily skit-led humour is always going to struggle to make a significant impact when asked to give itself the feature length treatment. Inevitably, jokes are repeated and what seems like a good idea on paper just doesn’t have enough substance to pull it off.

It's Got: Celebrity cameos coming out of its ears – look out for Billy Zane, David Bowie, Christian Slater, Winona Ryder and Donald Trump amongst others.

It Needs: To stay in the sketch arena – characters like this aren’t really cut out for lengthy big screen adventures.

DVD Extras Audio commentary with Ben Stiller and writers Drake Sather & John Hamburg, deleted and extended scenes, out-takes, 2 original sketches from the VH-1/Vogue Fashion Awards 1996/97, promotional spots, photo gallery and alternate end title sequence. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Dumb & Dumber, Dumb And Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

Summary

A handful of very funny sketches, unfortunately linked together by precious little. Worth renting if you’re in the mood for a laugh or three, but not the sort of comedy to be watched over and over again.

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