After over a decade-long hiatus, the character of “Zoolander” returned to theaters this weekend. Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell reprise their original roles in this sequel – unimaginatively titled “Zoolander 2” – as Derek Zoolander, Hansel and Mugatu.
The world has definitely changed in the past 13 years, but the characters have not. The film picks up many years after the opening of the “Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Want to Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too” and shows how both Zoolander's and Hansel’s lives have gone downhill during that time. After Billy Zane – as himself – makes a quick visit to both protagonists, they have revelations and decide to reinvent themselves.
As they try to revive their modeling careers, they soon realize that the world has changed drastically since their glory days. Stiller, who also directed the movie, makes it a point to comment on current fashion and pop culture throughout the film. He also tries to recreate what made the first “Zoolander” great by updating the pop culture references and including cameos from relevant celebrities like Justin Bieber, Skrillex and Katy Perry. The topical humor surrounding these icons is a little overdone: when Mugatu justifies his assassination of Bieber, the joke lands flat.
“Zoolander 2” follows the same formula of its predecessor. Even some of the film’s most minute visual details are lifted from the original movie.
It is easy to understand why Stiller refrains from changing much. However, the sequel is too similar to the original: despite the slight change in plot details and a few characters, "Zoolander 2" is essentially “Zoolander” with new celebrities. Fans of the original will be satisfied with the return of Zoolander’s famous “looks” – such as Blue Steel and Magnum – and his moronic behavior, but anyone other than a die-hard will feel disappointed.