Movie Name: Zoolander
Studio: Village Roadshow Pictures
Release Date(s): September 28, 2001
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) was born with a gift. He was naturally beautiful and he shares his gift with the world as the world’s top male model (with his patented Blue Steel look). When a new supermodel named Hansel McDonald (Owen Wilson) snags hit title, Zoolander learns that he must find new work. Fortunately for Zoolander, he’s caught the attention of Jacobim Mugatu, but Zoolander doesn’t know that Mugatu wants him to secretly be an assassin for his nefarious plots.
Directed by Ben Stiller (who also contributed to the screenplay), Zoolander is a comedy released in 2001. The movie received average to positive reviews and gained a cult following. The use of Malaysia led to bans of the movies in Malaysia and other areas in the region. The movie also faced accusations that it plagiarized aspects of Bret Easton Ellis’ 1998 novel Glamorama.
Ben Stiller was ruling the comedies in the early 2000s. Movies like There’s Something About Mary and Meet the Parents made him a star. Zoolander was destined to be another classic “Ben Stiller” movie despite a somewhat rocky start.
The movie was one of the first “Post-911” films and left filmmakers rushing to edit out images of the Twin Towers within the film just two weeks after the events of the day. By the time Zoolander came out, people probably needed a laugh and it could explain why the movie caught on when it did…despite having most of the funny parts in the trailer.
The movie’s plot goes for the absurd and that was a necessity since it is a hodgepodge of spy mumbo jumbo with virtually slapstick comedy on top. The whole assassination plotline does move the film forward but somewhat feels like a means to string together skits with Stiller and Wilson. That being said, some things still remain funny (like the basic concept of Stiller and Wilson as male models).
It is Stiller and Wilson who really save this movie with their over the top performances. Will Ferrell seems like he is his normal self in the movie, but Stiller and Wilson really own their characters. The movie is loaded with actors including Stiller’s wife Christine Taylor, his father Jerry Stiller (and his mother, sister, and brother-in-law also cameo). In addition to the Stiller clan, you Milla Jovovich, David Duchovny, Vince Vaughn, Jon Voight, Alexander Skarsgard, Andy Dick, Justin Theroux, Jennifer Coolidge, Nora Dun, James Marsden, Patten Oswald, and cameos like Donald Trump, Victoria Beckham, Winona Ryder, Billy Zane, Lil’ Kim, Gary Shandling, Fred Durst, Lance Bass, Lukas Haas, Stephen Dorff, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Christian Slater, Gwen Stefani, Heidi Klum, Lenny Kravitz, and a great cameo by David Bowie (plus more).
Zoolander is stupid and predictable…but fun. It is one of the comedies that if you have nothing invested in it or no expectations, you can enjoy…or you can “derelict my balls”. Zoolander was followed by a sequel fifteen years later with Zoolander 2 in 2016.