Despite some funny moments early on, Ben Stillers newest comedy, Zoolander, cant keep the laughs going. It soon resembles one of the awful, Saturday Night Live movies which try to wring a film out of a sketch that was only marginally amusing to begin with. The only shocker is that SNL producer Lorne Michaels had nothing to do with this production.
The problems with Zoolander start soon after it moves past the introductions, because this is essentially a one-joke film. The Joke: Stiller (Theres Something About Mary) is a self-obsessed idiotic super model named Derek Zoolander. Its a nice setup for a sketch (which is what Stiller created the character for), but the concept isnt strong enough to carry a whole movie. Even an 89-minute movie. And once the story kicks in, the film really begins to sputter.
When a reformist prime minister of Malaysia plans to wipe out child labor, the heads of the worlds major fashion companies arrange to have him assassinated. They pick Stillers Derek Zoolander because they believe he will be easily brainwashed due to his intellectual shortcomings.
In charge of molding Stiller is Will Ferrell (George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live) as the sinister fashion designer Mugatu. As usual Ferrell shines, stealing the few scenes he appears in. Surrounding him are the usual henchmen and vixens, who chase the good guys and absorb various blows. None makes any mentionable contributions.
Zoolanders initial rival, the equally dim model Hansel (Owen Wilson, star of Shanghai Noon.) interacts well at times, but is underused. On screen most of the time is Stiller, which is no surprise hes also the films director and one of the writers. That might also explain the presence of his wife, Christine Taylor (The Brady Bunch Movie) as the straight-woman Time magazine reporter. While she does a serviceable job, she wont amaze anyone, but thats mostly the fault of the material.
There are some very funny moments, most notably the homeless chicfashion show that hosts the final showdown. Models wear clothes in the fashion of the homeless for a line called Derelicte. That was great ( if you momentarily push aside the ethical questions of making fun of the homeless), but too many of the gags dont work, and when you throw as many at the audience as Stiller does, the dead spots build.
Zoolander is not as bad as another film he directed (ever see The Cable Guy?) but nothing to brag about either.
Reach Qguide writer Glenn Ferrara by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.
©2001 Community News Group
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