Zoolander 2 is to comedic films what Eminem is to hip-hop.
Are you with me?
Something that commonly happens in hip-hop is that, when emcees are younger, they tend to spit rhymes faster. Think of Eminem. You can listen to some of his earlier work and hear it, rapid-fire slander, jokes and insanity, spitting so quickly you find yourself missing references and rhymes while you latch on to some of his phrases. But if you listen to Eminem now, he’s not quite so machine-gun quick. That old roadrunner tempo shows up sometimes, but usually Eminem’s more recent songs are more deliberate affairs.
The initial Zoolander was a hoot, a mix of dumber-than-dumb humor, spot-on fashion industry satire and hilarious cameos. The jokes just kept coming, one after another. If one didn’t stick, you didn’t have time to think about it because another one was flying at you. I’m not saying it’s the greatest silver-screen comedic endeavor of all time, but it’s a funny flick that stands up to repeated viewing.
Zoolander 2 just feels older and slower. Maybe that’s part of the joke, as Hansel and Derek are constantly mocked for being out of touch and over the hill. But it’s a tired joke. Zoolander 2 moves at a crawl, weighed down by jokes repeated from the first film and cameos that aren’t nearly as much fun as those in the original. There are only so many times that Magnum and Blue Steel references will work. The appearances by Derek’s ghost wife add nothing, and the Hansel orgy jokes barely registered. I’m sorry, no one outside of Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Milan gives a shit who Anna Wintour and Marc Jacobs are, and most people don’t even know who Wintour and Jacobs are, period. And that matters if your climactic scene is going to be stacked with fashion designers. While I love a good Billy Zane joke as much as the next guy, I don’t see most audiences getting why his appearances are funny. And so on.
I suppose there is some good news: Zoolander 2 was superior to Dumb and Dumber To. Although that’s hardly a compliment.