Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Christine Taylor, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller, David Duchovny, Jon Voight
Directed by: Ben Stiller
[originally written on June 26, 2005]
First off, I should state that I’m not really a fan of Ben Stiller‘s moron films. I’ve enjoyed a couple for what they were, but even those tended to get old and annoying for me. Like many former sketch comedians, Stiller usually creates one-joke characters that are funny and clever at first, but wear out their welcome by the end.
I know that looking for character depth in the mindless comedies such as Zoolander is missing the point, but it’s this lack of depth that has kept me from seeing and truly enjoying most of the films by the usual cast of characters found in this and similar movies (Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn). They seem like the kind of movies that will make you laugh if you can check your brain at the door, and I prefer humour that requires me to use my brain (or at the very least, not ignore it).
Which isn’t to say Zoolander is a completely mindless film, because it’s not. It’s a bitingly satirical look at the modeling industry, and has some fairly clever things to say about that world. Derek Zoolander is a pretty funny character, as is Wilson’s Hansel and Ferrell’s Mugatu. The problem is that the characters and the satire aren’t surrounded by a very good plot or movie. It’s easy to tell that Stiller’s (who co-wrote and directed the film) creative energy was put into the jokes of the film, using the plot as a simple means to introduce cameo appearances and open up more opportunities for jokes
Which is standard operating procedure for such films. The question then becomes whether or not the jokes work, and for the most part they do. But, for me, they work more as a “that was kinda clever”, or a quick laugh, rather than an all-out funny laugh-fest. And, the jokes got a little old near the end. Luckily, the film is pretty short, so they don’t get too old. The brisk pace of the film makes it a fun enough ride.
Which is about all I can say for Zoolander, it’s a fun enough film with some clever satirical looks at the world of fashion. It’s no comedic goldmine; it’s no classic. But, it was a pleasant enough diversion that I’ll probably never watch again.