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'Zoolander 2' is the Max Landis of Sequels: Not Just Awful, But Abrasively, Obnoxiously Awful

By Dustin Rowles | Film | February 12, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | February 12, 2016 |

Waiting for Zoolander 2 for 15 years is like standing in a bathroom line for two hours at a concert: You miss the whole concert, you piss yourself five minutes before you get into the bathroom, and when you finally walk in to clean yourself up, some drunk guy punches you in the face because you smell like urine. It’s not simply awful; it’s aggressively awful, and like Max Landis, it has no real awareness of how awful it is, like a clown with halitosis who has you cornered against a wall and can’t see how uncomfortable you are because he’s laughing too hard at his terrible, terrible jokes.

Like Landis, it’s also pointless, a sequel nobody has wanted in a decade (at least) that only exists because of the good will his father the original fostered in Hollywood. It’s a grab bag of lame cameos from people you’d expect to make lame cameos in a dated sequel (MC Hammer, Kiefer Sutherland, Justin Bieber, Macaulay Culkin) and people whose agents couldn’t get them out of it (Benedict Cumberbatch, Christina Hendricks, and Susan Sarandon, completely wasting a Rocky Horror callback on this trainwreck). It all amounts to nothing, absolutely nothing but a waste of nearly two hours of life that could’ve honestly been better spent yelling at people on Twitter.

Derek and Hansel return after 15 years as “hermit crabs,” following the collapse of the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, which it turned out was built with the same materials used to build the miniature model. The collapse killed Zoolander’s wife, injured Hansel, and ultimately led to Derek’s child being taken away by child services (because Derek couldn’t figure out how to make pasta soft). The two re-team and are called to Rome (by Billy Zane) to appear in a fashion show arranged by Don Atari (Kyle Mooney) and Alexanya Atoz (an unrecognizable Kristen Wiig).

While in Rome, Zoolander and Hansel also team up with a swimsuit model turned Interpol agent (Penelope Cruz) to find out who has been killing pop stars. Turns out, the pop stars were protecting the descendants of Steve, the other guy in the Garden of Eden. Zoolander and his son are descendants. Don’t ask.

The specifics of the plot aren’t important. The important thing to know is that it makes zero sense, contains no traces of humor, and will make you completely miserable watching it. It’s dumb, but not in a smart dumb way. In a dumb dumb way. The sequel completely loses the thread on whatever the original Zoolander had been satirizing and instead resorts of horrible puns, jokes recycled not only from the original movie but from earlier scenes in this movie, and fat jokes. If you get tired of the fat jokes, there’s always really bad orgy jokes, or hipster jokes, or jokes about washed-up characters joking about how washed-up they are.

The sequel has been in works for eight years, and the script was apparently completed five years ago, and it feels like it. Pop culture moves fast, and Zoolander 2 didn’t even try to keep up. It’s a different world. Zoolander 2 doesn’t just fail because it’s laugh-out-loud unfunny, but because nobody cares. Does anyone give a shit about Marc Jacobs, or Anna Wintour, or Tommy Hilfiger anymore? Does anyone care about high fashion? Nobody leaves their house — we’re all Avatars and Bitmoji and Instagram selfies — and Zoolander 2 is making fun of 2009 … and doing a terrible job of even that. It’s bad. It’s a shit burger that’s been humped flat by a rabid, flea-bitten, one-legged mutt bad.