Ben Stiller is no stranger to sequels. After all, he’s done countless Meet the Parents, Madagascar and Night at the Museum movies. But, until recently, there had been a number of Stiller classics without a follow-up, like There’s Something About Mary, Tropic Thunder and Zoolander. Fortunately, the latter finally gets the sequel treatment with Zoolander 2 (also known as Zoolander No. 2 on certain promotional material). Like its predecessor, this movie is directed and co-written by Stiller, and will be released in theaters February 12, 2016.
The question is: Why that movie? It wasn’t a major hit, pulling in a relatively modest $60.7 million at the box office. But, as far as we’re concerned, there are many perfectly good reasons for revisiting Zoolander with a sequel.
So here they are, the 10 Reasons Zoolander Needed a Sequel…
10. Seems to be a passion project for Ben Stiller
Despite the modest success of the original, as far back as 2008 Ben Stiller was talking about wanting to make a sequel. Even back then he told WENN, “I feel that is the sequel I really would like to do some day because I like the original and I would make sure it was something new and worthy of it first.”
Four years later, in 2012, Stiller spoke of a concept similar to what we’re about to see in Zoolander No. 2, where Derek and Hansel are no longer relevant in the fashion world and are trying to figure out their place. But, in 2012, he said “We have a script, as we’ve had for a little while, but it’s not quite coming together right now. I hope it does. I would like to do it at some point in the future.” Another four years after that and things have finally come together.
9. Terrence Malick allegedly loves it
Yes, it’s been said that Terrence Malick, the enigmatic director of gorgeous, serious films that are notoriously difficult to decipher, like Tree of Life and The Thin Red Line, loves Zoolander. Apparently he watches it regularly and often quotes it. What we do know for sure is that the director included Zoolander on the bill, along with some of his other favorite films, as part of a film festival he programmed in Oklahoma in 2013. Based on Malick’s reputation, it seems like an extremely odd choice to be one of his favorite films. Stiller has spoken of being asked to dress as Zoolander to shoot a birthday video for Malick, and he obliged. And now Malick will have two Zoolanders to enjoy.
Coincidentally, Malick also has a new film coming out in the next few weeks: Knight of Cups comes to theaters March 4. Like the Zoolander films, it features a boatload of celebrities. So maybe sometime in early March you can take in a double feature of these two directors’ latest films.
8. Unfortunate timing for the original
The original Zoolander was released on September 28, 2001. The world was still in the midst of a sort of mass post-traumatic stress disorder due to the tragic events that had taken place just 17 days earlier, on September 11. People had trouble figuring out how to cope with the aftermath in many ways, and one of those was how we consume and respond to entertainment. It suddenly seemed trivial. They even erased the Twin Towers from shots of New York in Zoolander before it was released, so viewers wouldn’t be reminded of their heartache.
Comedy was one of the biggest question marks in the entertainment world. Just 10 days before Zoolander’s release, Vanity Fair famously suggested that we’d come to the “end of irony.” And irony has always been a strong comedic device. But they say time heals all wounds and time was definitely good to Zoolander, picking up more and more fans over the years. So it seems like the timing is now just right to revisit that world.
7. An unofficial tribute to Roger Ebert
Granted, it’s doubtful that this was a conscious reason for Ben Stiller to want to revisit Derek Zoolander and company, but we think the late, great film critic Roger Ebert left his mark on Stiller. The fact is, the longtime Chicago Sun-Times critic originally hated Zoolander. In his review from September 28, 2001, he gave it one lonely star and, while acknowledging the bad timing of the film’s release, the review was very heavily clouded by his feelings surrounding the 9/11 attacks.
But Ebert was always open to having his mind changed over the years, and his feelings about Zoolander fell into that category. During a panel at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, Stiller told the crowd that the Pulitzer Prize winning writer apologized to him for his review. According to Stiller, Ebert had said, “Hey, I just want to apologize to you. I wrote that about Zoolander, and I [now] think it’s really funny. Everything was a little crazy [back then]. It was September 11 and I went overboard.”
6. Recoup some of that Bret Easton Ellis money
Back in 1998, American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis published a novel called Glamorama. It satirizes the fashion world, consumerism and celebrity culture, featuring a dopey male model and models who become terrorists. Sound familiar? Yes, it sounds a lot like major elements of Zoolander, which hit theaters three years later.
Needless to say, Ellis took offense. He attempted to take legal action, but ultimately the two sides settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Due to the settlement, Ellis isn’t allowed to talk about the controversy, so we don’t know how much money changed hands or if he even gets a stake in the sequel. But no doubt the sequel will go a long way to recouping some of the money Stiller lost in the settlement.
5. It developed a cult following, and they want more
Often, when a comedy movie spawns a sequel, it’s because the original did huge numbers at the box office. But every once in a while a movie just kind of slinks along at the box office and gets a sequel. The people who like it, really like it, while other viewers are lukewarm at best, and others still don’t even bother watching it. But then those people who really like it start showing their friends when it’s released on video, streaming or download. And, as they say, they tell two friends and they tell two friends, and so on. Suddenly, there’s a whole new audience.
We saw this phenomenon to some extent with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which failed to break the big $100-million barrier upon its release in 2004, but nevertheless earned a sequel that was released nine years later. And the sequel earned more than twice as much at the box office. Audiences definitely appear to be similarly primed for Zoolander 2, which set a record for most YouTube views for a comedy trailer.
4. The fashion world is ripe for more satire
The fashion world has always been a bit of a bizarre place. It’s elite, it’s avant-garde, it seems to take itself really seriously. That’s the perfect kind of world to satire, and yet we haven’t seen a ton of fun poked at it on the big screen. Even before Zoolander, there was Robert Altman’s Ready to Wear (Prêt à Porter) in 1994, but not much else.
In the nearly 15 years since the original’s release, there’s so much new in the world of fashion and related pop culture that this new film can take on. Kardashians and Jenners have invaded fashion, there’s the absurdity and narcissism of the selfie, and if anything we’re even more obsessed with appearances now than we were then.
3. Bieber bashing
While we’re on the subject of celebrities and selfies, there’s also the Bieber factor. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know that in the film Justin Bieber, along with others among the “world’s most beautiful people” are killed. Hilariously, their last action is to take a selfie of themselves doing Derek’s famous look, Blue Steel.
It’s a great excuse to comment on the absurdity of celebrity culture and it’s kind of nice to see Bieber having a sense of humor about himself. And for those who can’t stand the sight of him (let alone the sound), it’s a great excuse to watch him go down. The question is: Did Stiller intend for Bieber and the other “beautiful people” to be in on the joke, or the butt of the joke? Did he just want an excuse to write a scene where Justin Bieber is murdered for being too beautiful?
2. The world needs more Mugatu
It’s easy to forget, but Will Ferrell was not yet a comedy superstar when he donned the wavy, platinum-blonde wig as the villain Jacobim Mugatu in 2001. His breakout role as a lead actor in Elf was still two years away. Nevertheless, Ferrell knocked this role out of the park as an over the top villainous fashion mogul, obsessed with assassinating the Malaysian prime minister in order to perpetuate child labor, so clothes could continue to be made on the cheap.
He reveled in screaming at underlings and enemies and… just about anyone, really. And Ferrell does manic funny anger better than just about anyone. His look was hilarious, with that wavy hair parted in the middle and stacked high on either side and the pointy goatee that made his head look like an anvil. He wore insane clothes that occasionally spelled out his name. And he unapologetically poured a hot latte on his assistant, followed by a bizarre, bulgy-eyed look. We’re happy to see the latter scene is revisited in the trailer for Zoolander No. 2.
1. More quotable lines
The original Zoolander was written with brilliant comic flair by Stiller, Drake Sather and John Hamburg. It was overflowing with hilariously quotable lines. Shall we name a few? Derek angrily complains of a model of the Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good, “What is this? A center for ants? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read… if they can’t even fit inside the building?” Mugatu screams at his assistant, “Todd, are you not aware that I get farty and bloated with a foamy latte?” Hansel thinks files are physically in the computer. Derek’s father says to him, “You’re dead to me, son. You’re even more dead to me than your dead mother.” Derek stumbled, “A eugoogalizor, one who speaks at funerals. Or did you think I’d be too stupid to know what a eugoogoly was?” And, of course, there’s how Derek refers to himself as “really, really, ridiculously good looking.”
Fortunately, Stiller and Hamburg are back writing Zoolander No. 2, along with Justin Theroux and Nick Stoller, so there’s more quotable dialogue in the trailer. Derek’s mispronunciations are back, reading “lame” as “lamé” (pronounced la-may). Hansel says of Penelope Cruz’s character, “She’s hot. I trust her.” Mugatu barks to his assistant, “Todd! Where’s my goddamn latte.” And the villain screams, inexplicably, “I’m the mamba bajamba!”
Can you think of any more good reasons that Zoolander should have been made? Let us know in the comments!