It’s been 15 years since “Zoolander” and dimwitted male model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is still… well, dimwitted. Tragedy has struck him in the form of the collapsing school he founded, called “The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too,” which claimed the life of Matilda (Christine Taylor) and leaves Zoolander to care for their son, Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold). But he’s charged with bad parenting and his son is taken away by Child Protective Services. So Zoolander exiles himself to Northern New Jersey (which looks a lot like the middle of the Arctic.
Elsewhere, former model and friend to Zoolander, Hansel (Owen Wilson), has too exiled himself, and his orgy clan, to the Uncharted Malibu Territories (which looks like an endless desert) after suffering facial scarring. Both models are visited by Billy Zane and he implores them to return to the modeling world. There’s a hidden agenda by fashion criminal Mugatu (Will Ferrell) and Interpol (headed by Penélope Cruz) gets involved after a string of pop stars (including Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato) are killed, but not before taking a Blue Steel selfie.
There are definitely a few laughs to be had in this sequel that really didn’t need to be made. It’s 15 years later and “Zoolander 2” highlights the differences in technology (Derek still carries around the teeny weeny cell phone) and Zoolander’s overall stupidity, but it also tends to tack on certain plot lines that needn’t have been included, all for the sake of bringing back the people who brought the funny to begin with. There are a lot of jokes that don’t strike the right chord and miss the laughs (the audience chuckled a few times, but that’s about it).
The film includes a young hipster fashion designer, Don Atari (Kyle Mooney), who thinks he’s the best thing to ever happen to the fashion world, but he’s the most annoying part of the entire film. Atari also thinks Zoolander and Hansel are “old” and “lame,” making them look like a pathetic spectacle, which is all for show. Kristen Wiig is barely recognizable as the stuffy and heavily-accented Alexanya Atoz and struggles to bring the laughs, which is unusual for her.
There are daddy issues (one that has to do with a cameo by Sting), a prophecy, and so many cameos (including Benedict Cumberbatch, Susan Sarandon, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, John Malkovich, Sting, and even Neil deGrasse Tyson) that to list them all would most likely take up most of this review. Ultimately, “Zoolander 2” struggles to pick up the pace, so the first half is a bit slow. There are a couple of genuine laughs, but the film fails to provide anything new and turns into a strange spy-type race to save the day and only proves to be underwhelming and forgettable overall.