Have you ever wondered if there was more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking? Well I have a news flash for you, Walter Cronkite: Derek Zoolander and Hansel wonder that too, and they’re back in action in Zoolander 2.
Zoolander hit theaters a decade and a half ago, in 2001, and quickly became a cult classic. Following the trend of several other franchise revivals, Zoolander 2 picks up in close-to-real-time after the ending of its predecessor, so you may need to catch up on a few things. Can Derek turn left? Did they not die in a freak gasoline fight accident?
Find out for yourself! Here are 10 Things You Need to Know About Zoolander 2.
10 The Original Cast is Reuniting
One of the biggest highlights of the original Zoolander was the way in which each of the main characters effectively played off each other. Derek Zoolander was originally conceived by Stiller in sketch form during the VH1 Fashion Awards in 1996 and 1997, so Zoolander has always revolved around the characters.
Stiller (who also wrote and directed both films) is - of course - back as Derek Zoolander. Owen Wilson is reprising the role of Hansel, and Stiller’s real-life wife Christine Taylor is returning to play Zoolander’s love interest Matilda Jeffries. The fashion designer-turned-villain and inventor of the piano key necktie, Jacobim Mugatu, is also back, played again by Will Ferrell.
9 There Will be Several Newcomers
The prospect of having all of the fan-favorite characters come back is definitely exciting, but a Zoolander sequel could get repetitive if it only focused on the same 4 characters as the original. Just like with Derek Zoolander’s repertoire of looks, it’s important to mix it up. Fortunately, there’s some excellent comedic talent joining for the sequel.
Supplementing the returning cast are Penelope Cruz as the swimsuit model-turned-secret agent Valentina, Kristen Wiig as the eternally youthful(ish) fashion icon Alexanya Atoz, and Benedict Cumberbatch as All, the androgynous supermodel. All three new additions have excellent comedic acting chops, so it’ll be fun to see them share the screen with the returning cast.
8 It’s Choc Full of Cameos
Among the highlights of Zoolander was the plethora of celebrity cameos peppered throughout almost every scene. From David Duchovny as a conspiratorial hand model to David Bowie (RIP) judging the underground “walk-off,” not to mention Billy Zane, Donald Trump, Lenny Kravitz and many others. Many of the jokes even revolved around said cameos, so it’s exciting to see that trend continue with Zoolander 2.
Confirmed cameos include Joe Jonas, Miley Cyrus, Fred Armisen, Kanye West, and Kim Kardashian, just to name a few. Billy Zane is even back for round 2. According to the first trailer, “Someone is trying to kill the world’s most beautiful people,” so many of these cameos could by intricate death scenes a la This is the End (we even see Justin Bieber getting murdered in the trailer). Not every cameo will necessarily be plot-centric, of course. Don’t be surprised to spot quite a few additional celebs popping up in the background throughout the movie.
7 The Trailers Haven’t Spoiled All the Jokes (or Plot)
When we left Derek Zoolander and his friends, they had just founded the The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too. The sequel appears to pick up some time later - to an "old" and "lamé" Derek and Hansel, who are no longer as hot as they once were.
Zoolander 2 may be following the recent trend of resurrecting cult classic comedies; however, it doesn’t succumb to the pitfall of burning out all the jokes in the trailers. This is a breath of fresh air at a time when most movies seem feel the need to give away too much in the marketing.
Not only do they seem to be keeping the jokes under wraps, but most of the plot as well. The basic outline is presented in the trailers, but the marketing has focused mainly on character introduction and/or development.
6 Viral Ads Have Been Favored Over Actual Footage
The spoiler-light marketing has been accomplished largely through promotional spots that focus on the characters, in lieu of actual movie footage. The movie was actually officially announced by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson crashing the Paris Fashion week in character as Derek Zoolander and Hansel.
Additional advertising includes mock advertisements for fashion products, featuring the main characters. Kristen Wiig even did a full mock-commercial as her character Alexanya Atoz promoting her “Booty Labia-tory”.
While the hyper-exaggerated characters and base humor may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s definitely right in line with what made the original a cult hit and highly quotable by fans in the years since.
5 Much of the Marketing Has Been Through Brand Partnerships
In addition to the viral marketing, Zoolander 2 has also participated in several brand partnerships that, once again, focus on the characters as a means of marketing the movie. The character bits all enable them to sell audiences on the movie, without actually sacrificing any punchlines.
Ben Stiller did a full video interview for Vogue as the Derek Zoolander character. The interview was an MTV Cribs style tour of his New York apartment, featuring a cameo from Zoe Kravitz, and many other celebrity jabs and inside jokes.
Fiat also picked up Derek Zoolander for a series of commercials featuring some of his “best work” to promote their vehicles. It appears Fiat will also be heavily featured in the movie as well. Maybe Fiat is going to win Car Model of the Year four times in a row?
4 The First Trailer Incited a Boycott
Some in the trans community have found offense at moments in the trailer where we see Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of “All,” an androgynous supermodel. Taking offense at this depiction, a group of LGBTQ activists have proposed a boycott. Stating “Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals.” Most fans of Zoolander would be hard pressed to point out any character in the movie that isn’t an “over-the-top, cartoonish mockery,” regardless of gender identity.
Zoolander isn’t exactly popular due to its sensitivity to cultural issues. The first movie drew some criticism over its light portrayal of child labor, resulting in censorship in Malaysia, and an outright ban in Singapore.
Obviously, nothing is safe from satire in the Zoolander universe. For ambi-turners and non-ambi-turners alike, Zoolander is not the best source of nuanced social commentary.
3 The Trailer Set Viewing Records for Comedies
The first Zoolander 2 trailer made a big splash upon release, breaking the record previously held by Dumb and Dumber To for most views during the first week with 52.2 million. Dumb and Dumber To and Zoolander 2 are both long delayed sequels, although fans of Dumb and Dumber had waited a little longer (if you don’t count Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, which is the way many would prefer it).
The record setting viewership could be attributed to excitement for the sequel or intrigue due to the aforementioned boycott, but the trailer itself wasn’t anything groundbreaking when it comes to comedy previews. Popular trailers don’t always turn into big box office returns, and Zoolander 2 may face some tough competition as it’s going up against Deadpool on Valentine’s Day weekend. That’s one head-to-head that won’t be settled with a walk-off (even if it would make for a great crossover).
2 Zoolander 2 is Highly anticipated
Fans have been waiting for a Zoolander sequel for years. The ending of the first movie did set up what fans hoped would eventually result in a sequel, but it wasn’t until 2008 that real sequel rumors started.
Once the project was officially announced 7 years later in March 2015, fans could truly get excited. The viral ads and trailers have kept everyone sated, but there are a lot of people looking forward to this movie. It even landed a spot of Screen Rant's own list of most anticipated movie sequels for 2016.
1 It’s Been in Development for a Long Time
The first mention of a Zoolander sequel came in 2008, when Ben Stiller confirmed he was working on a few scripts. Justin Theroux was signed to both write and direct in 2010, but it seems that several scripts were batted around and nothing was settled on. Stiller also replaced Theroux as director.
It wasn’t until September of 2014 that Will Ferrell confirmed a reading had been scheduled for a final script, and casting began shortly after that.
It may not have spent as much time in development hell as other projects, but it’s still a sign of passion and commitment by Ben Stiller and company. Whether that translates into an entertaining product on screen has yet to be seen. If it’s able to recapture even some of the magic, as some of the marketing has suggested, it will at least be a fun bit of nostalgic comedy.
Is there anything else we should know about Derek Zoolander and co.? Let us know in the comments?
Zoolander 2 releases in theaters this Friday, February 12, 2016.
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