ZOOLANDER Add To My Top 10
Release Date: September 28, 2001
Audience: Teenagers & young adults
Runtime: 89 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Ben Stiller
Address Comments To:Sherry Lansing, Chairman
Motion Pictures Group
A Paramount Communications Company
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197
Phone: (323) 956-5000
Actor, director and co-writer Ben Stiller stars as the title character, Derek Zoolander, the world’s most famous supermodel. Derek is vain and surprisingly short in the brains department. When Derek loses his expected repeat of the Male Model of the Year honor to dashing newcomer (and equally mentally dense) Hansel, Derek’s narcissistic world begins to crumble. He wonders if there’s more to life than just being “really, really super good-looking.”
After failing to find the answer, things start looking up when fashion mogul Mugatu picks Derek to model his new “Derelicte” fashion collection. What Derek does not know is that Mugatu intends to brainwash Derek into assassinating the new president of Malaysia, who wants to stop the fashion industry from using cheap labor in his country. Helping Derek to unravel the plot is a female journalist from Time magazine and a mystery man who believes that all the political assassins of the last 200 years have been male models.
Joining Ben Stiller in these zany proceedings is Owen Wilson as Hansel, Ben’s father Jerry Stiller as Derek’s agent, Ben’s wife Christine as the Time reporter, and goofy comic actor Will Ferrell as Mugatu. (Ferrell plays Janet Reno, President George W. Bush, a nerdy cheerleader, and a host of other characters on TV’s SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.) There are several funny sequences in this movie (such as a runway “walk-off” between Derek and Hansel), as well as some pretty funny jibes at the fashion industry. Too many of the jokes, however, do not build upon one another, but are made for immediate effect only to then disappear. The actors help carry the show, though Jerry Stiller and Will Ferelly get a little annoying at times. It’s also hard to sympathize with a numskull unless he has a bigger, much meaner antagonist, or unless his goals and objectives are worthwhile. For example, the script tells us that Derek just wants to make his father proud (a noble goal perhaps), but this is not always stressed. Derek also tries to find some bigger purpose for his life, but then he gets caught up in his own narcissism again. Furthermore, while Will Ferrell is very funny as the evil antagonist Mugatu, it’s hard to take him seriously.
This is not what makes ZOOLANDER unfit for viewing, however. The reason for that problem is the movie’s foul language, including several strong profanities, and its lackadaisical attitude toward sexual immorality and even drug abuse. Thus, there is an implied orgy scene in the movie, two or three sexual body jokes about male genitals, and brief references to sado-masochism and masturbation. Also, there are a couple jokes about Hansel’s drug use, which makes light of a significant, dangerous problem that affects millions of children every day. All of these things fit in well with the homosexual subtext that exists in some parts of the fashion world and in this movie.
Joining Ben Stiller in the zany proceedings are Owen Wilson as Hansel, Ben’s father Jerry Stiller as Derek’s agent, Ben’s wife Christine as the Time reporter, and goofy comic actor Will Ferrell as Mugatu. The actors help carry the show, but Derek is not sympathetic enough as a protagonist and the jokes fail to build to a proper crescendo. ZOOLANDER also contains some strong profanities and a lackadaisical attitude toward sexual immorality and drugs, which fit in well with its homosexual subtext