What You Need To Know:
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
(PaPa, Ho, PC, B, C, LLL, VV, SS, NN, A, DD, M) Pagan worldview with a homosexual subtext & homosexual worldview elements (though the narcissistic protagonist eventually gets married to a woman & has a child) plus some politically correct, anti-capitalist elements & some moral & redemptive elements (narcissistic protagonist becomes a hero & makes his father proud of him); about 26 obscenities & 8 mostly strong profanities, plus some bodily humor & urinating; some comic violence such as comical martial arts violence, a recreation of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, another man shot dead, pickaxe flies off the handle & hits someone off-screen, female villain struck on face & seems to enjoy tasting tiny trickle of blood, egg thrown, brainwashing session, explosion, & man deliberately knocked unconscious; depicted sexual references such as men kiss woman's upper shoulders & back & scene dissolves into an implied orgy, photo of men in sado-masochistic gear, man has an erection under a towel, veiled reference to masturbation, & narcissistic male models & fashion designers present a homosexual subtext in the movie; rear male nudity, people in skimpy outfits & sado-masochistic outfits shown; alcohol use; smoking & brief drug references including marijuana smoking; and, assassination plots revealed & rebuked or defeated, narcissism spoofed, crazy man says, “Obey my God,” while holding his little poodle, & stupid men play around with gasoline.
ZOOLANDER tries to re-invent the numskull comedy by setting its wild shenanigans in the unique world of high fashion. It almost succeeds in this endeavor, but ultimately succumbs to the problems facing many of today’s “hip” comedies: the failure to turn a good idea into a full-length feature movie comedy that uses story, character, wit, and physical humor to build audience laughter into a finely tuned crescendo.
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.