Zoolander was a surprise hit with comedy fans in 2001, in spite (or maybe because?) of the seemingly niche nature of its premise: an action/comedy satire of the fashion industry, built around a sketch character created by Ben Stiller for a pair of (then) 6 year old MTV Awards spots. Not exactly what anyone was thinking of as a winner at the time. But in defiance of a mixed critical reception the film caught on and has since become a minor comedy classic, with fans now primed and ready for a long-awaited sequel Zoolander 2 set to drop very soon.
A final trailer for the Zoolander sequel has now landed, making one last push for audience attention with a focus on action and sight-gags – cut to the beat of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax (Don’t Do It.)”.
The trailer features multiple new gags not yet highlight in previous spots, including a look at an older, unshaven Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and an encounter with Will Ferrell as Mugatu, the imprisoned villain of the original film. Getting an extended spotlight are Penelope Cruz and a new villain(?) played by Kristen Wiig, who appears to have a connection to Mugatu. Amusingly, despite the 15 year passage of time Zoolander and his ally Hansel (Owen Wilson) do not appear to have grown any more intelligent – as Derek puts it: “I miss not knowing things with you.”
The length of time between sequels, however, looks to be an integral part of the film’s storyline, with both Derek and Hansel finding themselves increasingly marginalized by a fashion industry that prizes youth and and ever-escalating sense of industrialized pretense above all else. But when a succession of models and international celebrities begin turning up dead with Zoolander’s signature “Blue Steel” expression frozen on their faces, the pair team with Cruz’s Melanie Valentina to uncover a deadly conspiracy. Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Fred Armisen, Milla Jovovich and Christine Taylor (returning from the original film) also star.
Notably missing from the new trailer is Benedict Cumberbatch as the androgynous supermodel “All,” possibly because of the character’s debut in earlier spots touched off controversy, with many opining that the character as conceived was a transphobic stereotype. The series is no stranger to such backlash, as the original Zoolander was hit by some critics for an “insensitive” storyline involving Malaysian sweatshops that contributed to the film being banned in that country and heavily censored in Singapore. Cumberbatch’s character is presumed to still be part of the finished film.
Revisiting comedy franchises that stalled out in the ’90s has thus far not proved to be a sound venture for studios, with would-be series-revivals like Dumb & Dumber To, American Reunion and the new Vacation all landing as critical disappointments, if not also commercial under-performers in most cases. While the original Zoolander is considered a classic by fans today and turned a profit in theaters, it was by no means a massive initial success. To succeed, Zoolander 2 will need to woo not only its original fanbase but a new generation of comedy audiences who may not have seen the first film or even heard of it – an unsure proposition when “Hey, Derek Zoolander is back!” appears to be the main crux of the film’s marketing.
On the other hand, it’s possible that a cast this heavy with comedy stars and popular celebrities doesn’t necessarily require a built-in audience to draw curious moviegoers.
Zoolander 2 opens in U.S. theaters on February 12th, 2016.
Source: Paramount Pictures