Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
Teen to Adult
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
September 28, 2001
Ben Stiller (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Meet the Parents”) wants to do it all. he’s the co-writer, director and star of the comedy “Zoolander”. Even parents Anne Meara (“Judy Berlin”) and Jerry Stiller (“Seinfeld”) are in the film—after all, he is in charge! And let us not forget Ben’s wife, Christine Taylor, and his sister Amy. Stiller, from Manhattan, was raised on comedy. His parents had their own comedy act and performed in nightclubs and on television. Ben, at age 35, is one of the more popular actors among GenXers. He is now taking a satirical character that he created for the 1996 VH-1 Fashion Awards to the big screen.
I guess if Woody Allen can have the vanity to cast himself as a babe-magnet, Stiller can try and do the same as a male super model. We, the audience, are supposed to believe that this flic will be one of those hip bubblegum-colored parodies. Instead, it is a sad commentary on how tainted the medicine for laughter has become.
A film about an assassination plot in these troubled times may be considered insensitive. And you would have thought Ben could have at least used a fictitious country instead of the mostly Muslim Malaysia. But he didn’t. I’m not even sure how you can build a comedy around the plight of child labor violations in the world. But then again, this is humor after all, built around clueless models.
Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is the top male model in the world. He has the ability to stun everyone with his gaze (they even have different names). A tragic accident takes the lives of his roommates (proving to everyone at home—don’t soak your friends with gasoline and then play with fire). He then loses the Top Model of the Year Award (which he had won 3 years in a row) to archrival Hansel (Owen Wilson). Then a hard nosed reporter named Matilda (Christine Taylor) does further damage to his reputation by lambasting him in a “Time” Magazine cover story (how low can you go?). Derek is completely distraught and heads home to the coal mines of New Jersey. He joins the work in the pits with his father (Jon Voight) and naturally his brothers possessing dim outlooks. And dear old dad isn’t exactly thrilled or accepting of his son.
But have no fear. Fashion designer Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) would be happy to bail out Zoolander. He plans to put Derek back on top, but he secretly wants to brainwash him to be an assassin. You see, he just can’t stand the thought of little children making minimum wage in a foreign nation.
Most of the movie is one dumb joke after another. Ben calls on several “SNL” friends to help rescue this comedy. He even has a couple of dozen cameos (how many favors can one guy call in?). None of this can stop this comedy from being one of the most offensive I have ever seen. Just when you think that PG-13 comedies have sunk to an all time low, yet another comes along to dive even deeper.
Space doesn’t allow me to list all the negatives, but here are just two. A man receiving a massage develops an erection. He is covered with a towel which we painfully see beginning to dance around. In another instance, two male models try to remove their underwear without taking their pants off. It is one long scene of implied masturbation. It gets worse, but I’m sure you’ll thank me for sparing you the details.
“Zoolander” was originally rated “R”, but with some slick editing managed to pull out a PG-13 rating. My strong recommendation is to skip this one. Not even brainwashing me could change my view. Definitely an “Adult” film in every sense of the worl.