Review – Ridiculous, but Funny (“Zoolander 2”)

If you’re a fan of Ben Stiller’s loopy and dim-witted male model, Derek Zoolander from the 2001 film, then you’re gonna love this sequel which places Derek smack dab in the middle of a deep-dark fashion conspiracy, àla The DaVinci Code.

Things haven’t gone well for Derek since 2001. His project, The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too, building collapsed (because it was made of popsicle sticks and rubber cement glue!), killing his wife and sending Derek into exile to the vast forest land of. . .New Jersey. His son, Derek, jr. was taken away and sent to places unknown. Meanwhile, Derek’s BFF, spiritual Hansel (Owen Wilson), also suffered a serious funk and left for the massive dunes (??) of Malibu with his tribe of orgy followers (including a pregnant (!!??) Keifer Sutherland).

But postman Billy Zane (yeah, there are tons of cameos here) delivers a message to both the guys: World famous fashionista Alexanya Atoz (an unrecognizable and unintelligible Kristen Wiig) and punk super clothes designer, Don Atari (Kyle Mooney) want them to resurface and model again in Rome, Italy for a special show. They agree and, after meeting Atari’s secret weapon model called “All” (a very funny Benedict Cumberbatch), the boys are humiliated as relics of the past.

But! Interpol’s Fashion Division’s Melanie Valentin (Penelope Cruz) needs their help. Someone is killing off certain male models and rock stars and Derek’s signature “look” is the key. That and Derek’s chubby pre-teen son (Cyrus Arnold) who just happens to be schooled there. Coincidence? After a not-so-happy reunion between father and son takes place, a meeting with rock legend Sting confirms a weird fashion legend. Apparently God created Steve along with Adam & Eve; a pure-blood male model whose beauty and power can be traced down to his ancestor today… Derek’s son!

Who’s behind all these nefarious shenanigans? The infamous Mugatu! Will Ferrell reprises his hysterical role as the insane villain who wants to control the fashion world with only HIS hideous designs! After breaking out of “Fashion Prison” (it looks like a gigantic thimble), he gets the great clothing designers together (the real Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, etc) and prepares to do something quite evil. Will Derek, Hansel, and Valentin get there in time? Will junior accept his idiot estranged father as his dad? Will Derek and gorgeous Valentin hook up? And how does Neil deGrasse Tyson fit into all of this?

Directed by Stiller and written by him, plus Nick Stoller, John Hamburg, and Justin Theroux, this corny and oft-times Zucker Brothers inspired movie steps over the boundaries of it’s 2001 original film and goes overboard, becoming waaaaaaayyyy too ridiculous. While the first movie was somewhat grounded in it’s depiction of a nutty super-model who had a “power” that shone through a quick glance (“Magnum!”,“Blue Steel!”), this movie is just plain silly with laughably out-there crazy sight gags aplenty, and a plethora of cameos that you might see in Airplane! or one of the Naked Gun movies. I laughed a lot!

Stiller has a firm grasp on how to direct a film, as witnessed in his great Tropic Thunder and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty efforts. His huge cast looks like they were having a great time, especially with Ferrell and Wilson. And, OMG, all those extras! From Justin Bieber getting riddled with bullets in the opening, to Katy Perry wondering outloud who she really is, to Tyson saying, “I’m Neil deGrasse Tyson, bitch!”, to Willie Nelson and Susan Sarandon wanting to be part of an orgy? Oh yeah, this is one funny movie!

 

TOP SECRET (1984)
*
 
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Val Kilmer made his film debut in this outrageously wacky film about a dim-bulb rock ‘n’ roll singer who travels to East Germany during WW2 to give a concert, but inadvertently gets mixed-up with a beautiful spy and her resistance movement against the Nazi’s.
 
Made by the nutty Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams, the guys who brought us the Naked Gun franchise and Airplane!, this completely insane movie pulls out all the stops with crazy dialoge, a plethora of wild and silly sight gags, wacky camera tricks (the reverse bookshop scene is impressive), and a bizarre storyline. There’s Nick Rivers (Kilmer), a famous U.S. rock star (with the number one song, “Skeet Surfing”) who goes to East Germany to perform at a cultural festival.
 
At dinner he sees the beautiful Hillary Flammond (Lucy Gutteridge), a member of the underground resistance movement who’s attempting to avoid the authorities. He performs an impromptu song and dance (“Tutti-Frutti”) to save her, but is met by the police instead and arrested. He is taken to a prison and escapes, but ends up in the secret lab of Dr. Paul Flammond (Michael Gough), a brilliant scientist being forced by the Germans to developing a WMD.
 
But the East Germans decide that Nick must perform to avoid an international incident and, while that happens, he is rescued by Hillary. She takes him to the secret “Potato Farm” where they meet members of the French Resistance, led by Nigel “The Torch” (Christopher Villiers).  After fighting off an attack by the Germans, they move to a soda shop where Nick proves that he’s not a traitor by performing for the locals.
 
The resistance group stages a rescue of Dr. Flammond, where Nigel and DuQuois (Harry Ditson) dress up like a fake cow to disable the alarm. But Nigel reveals himself as a traitor as Dr. Flammond is rescued and takes off with Hillary. Nick is forced to rescue her in an underwater barroom fight with Nigel. Like I said, this is one nutty film!
 
Made right before the extraordinary success of the Naked Gun TV series and movies, this film is just plain fun to watch. It’s lunacy is only matched by the great music in it with the ridiculously catchy songs. Kilmer is amazing and shows off his boyish charm and goofy innocence in every scene. Look for great cameos by Peter Cushing and Omar Sharif, too!
 
Just like in life, timing is everything, but this movie failed at the box office because it was up against the powerhouses Ghostbusters and Gremlins when it was released. A bad move on behalf of the studios. Pity, too, as this lesser-known of the Zucker/Abraham films is one of their very best.       
 
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