*1/2 out of ****
2001’s Zoolander was an intermittently funny film that developed a large cult following in the ensuing years. Its best bits, like the “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” scene, are inspired. But it’s choppy, and like other popular comedies of yesteryear (Caddyshack is another), it plays better if viewed as a highlight reel on YouTube than as a feature film. Sadly, Zoolander 2 doesn’t even reach those heights.
Ben Stiller’s title character opens the film in exile and disgrace. His wife died in a tragic accident of his own making and his son is in an orphanage. But, a mysterious message calls him and Hansel (Owen Wilson) to Rome for a fashion show.
Like many sequels, the problem lies in the repetition of jokes from the original that feel tired and stale here. It also relies heavily on an endless parade of cameos, almost all of which seem to exist solely for their own sake (the exception being Kiefer Sutherland’s amusing work). The only other laughs come after Zoolander reunites with his son, who turns out to be nerdy and overweight. That should have been the movie’s primary relationship.