Someone is killing the most beautiful pop stars in the world. The only person who can help Interpol find out why is, surprisingly, retired male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller).
It’s 15 years since Zoolander first sashayed into cinemas, dying on initial release but gradually building a devoted following. The sequel sticks to the formula that (eventually) worked last time. Like its predecessor, Zoolander 2 is stitched together from some teeny scraps of plot, studded with a few really smart jokes and a lot of very stupid ones, then heavily studded with dazzling star cameos. It’s a likable mess, although it lacks the memorable lines of the first, making it liable to be enjoyed once and forgotten, rather than revisited for years to come.
Zoolander 2 is as endearingly brainless as its title character.
It begins with both Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hans (Owen Wilson) in hiding, Derek because he caused the death of his wife and lost his son, Hans because he slightly grazed his cheekbone in an accident and won’t let the world witness his new hideousness. The pair are separately invited to Rome for some big fashion hoo-hah and are then snagged by Interpol to help foil a criminal plot of quite astonishingly complex absurdity, involving the Garden Of Eden and a cabal of warrior pop stars.
There is a sneaking sense that the script was written to accommodate small windows of cast availability, as most of them don’t hang around for very long. Kristen Wiig, whom trailers had suggested might be the main villain, is barely in it — which is a shame because when she does show up, as a fish-lipped designer with an accent that assigns vowels at random, she’s a strange treasure. Will Ferrell, returning as murderous lunatic Mugatu, is enjoyable but also frequently absent. That makes it all a bit of a chaotic hodge-podge, trying to mask the lack of consistent characters by throwing great gleaming fistfuls of cameos at you. There are so many guest appearances, possibly over a hundred. Some are well used (Susan Boyle is hilarious), but a lot of them work on the basis that recognising a famous person constitutes a joke in itself. Katy Perry singing on a roof is not a punchline — it’s just Katy Perry singing on a roof.
Yet the whole thing is so ridiculous, and so enthusiastic, that it wins you over. Zoolander 2 is as endearingly brainless as its title character.
It’s fun to take another turn with Derek and Hansel, but they probably don’t have another season in them.