*. You can’t keep a good (profitable) franchise hero down. Even if the character of Derek Zoolander seemed pretty much played out by the end of his first film, as there wasn’t much there in the first place, that wasn’t going to stop bringing the gang back for another strut down the catwalk.
*. Perhaps being aware of how little they had to work with, it seems as though a conscious decision was made to go big, which is almost always a bad way for comedy to go. So there are even more cameos, more lavish production values, and a way over-the-top plot that throws in late Austin Powers with some nonsense about a secret society of designers coveting the holy blood of “Steve.” Steve, of Adam and Eve and Steve, is the legendary forefather of all supermodels, and his blood is the formula of the Fountain of Youth and it runs in the veins of Derek’s son, Derek Jr. (a.k.a., the Chosen One).
*. If that sounds both really stupid and way too much, it is. I think 2016 was also late in the day for such a lame Da Vinci Code parody, but in their (partial) defence they were apparently working on the script here for nearly ten years. Ten years to come up with this. You really have to wonder how that happens.
*. Another matter relating to timing: when the film came out it attracted controversy for its casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as the non-binary model All in a way that was seen as culturally insensitive. There were the usual calls for a boycott, which were probably unnecessary, but I have to say that the exchange of looks between Derek and All is probably my favourite part of the entire movie. There’s a lot going on there. But in an interview done in 2022 Cumberbatch thought that the scene “backfired” and if the movie were to be made today the character would have been played by a trans or non-binary actor instead. I doubt it would have been as funny, but that’s the way things go.
*. Sticking with the matter of the times a-changing, another part of the movie I got a smile out of is the way that Derek and Hansel haven’t smartened up a bit but they seem brighter because the world has grown more stupid. There was a bit of this in Bill & Ted Face the Music but it’s more pronounced here. All (Cumberbatch) is a plank that Derek and Hansel can’t communicate with, while Katinka (Kristen Wiig) and the hot new designer Don Atari (Kyle Mooney) were as incomprehensible to me as they were to our heroes. Nor does Justin Beiber — playing himself! — come off any better.
*. That our world got a whole lot dimmer in just fifteen years is a point that I thought more could have made of. It had real potential. Unfortunately we’re stuck with the aforementioned caravan of cameos and the Austin Powers/Da Vinci Code plot with a bunch of stuff about Derek having to learn to be an understanding father, since Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold) isn’t as really, really, ridiculously good looking like his dad.
*. Critics hated it and it failed at the box office, which left Stiller feeling relieved because he didn’t want to make another sequel. Personally, I thought it was about as entertaining as the first movie. The best stuff was better though the worst stuff was quite a bit worse. The supporting cast, including Will Ferrell coming back as Mugatu, Penélope Cruz as a hot fashion agent, and Kristen Wiig as another evil designer all turn in decent performances with little to work with except excess. Even Sting is endurable. That I rated it just as high as the first film can probably be put down to a recency bias though, and I share Stiller’s relief that this is the end. For now.