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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

The working lifespan of a male model lasts about as long as that of the common mosquito. Once your steely eyes begin rusting and your pouty lips lose their pucker, you know your career on the runway is coming to a close.

But even by male model standards, Derek Zoolander's fall from the dizzying heights of fashion was steep.

It wasn't so long ago that Derek was a world-renowned model-slash-celebrity-slash-savior-of-the-prime-minister-of-Malaysia. He possessed a myriad of famed pouty poses. He married his love, Matilda, and he realized his dream of building The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too.

Alas, he built the center with the same materials his architects used to build the model of the center—used popsicle sticks and rubber cement, mainly—and the whole thing fell into a nearby body of water two days after it opened. The cataclysm horribly disfigured the face of his one-time rival and BFF, Hansel, and sadly, killed his wife. And if that wasn't enough, his son, Derek Jr., was taken away from him when it was learned that Derek didn't know how to "make spaghetti soft."

These difficult circumstances sent Derek to become, as he says, a "hermit crab," retreating to the wilds of northern New Jersey to live out his days in well-dressed solitude.

But "fate" had other plans. And given fate's excess of free time, those plans are needlessly complex.

Both Derek and Hansel are invited back to the world of high fashion by Alexanya Atoz, the heavily Botoxed industry icon. She invites the pair to strut the runway in Rome—which just so happens to be home to the orphanage where Derek Jr. is cooped up. And the high-security fashion prison in which Derek's archenemy, Jacobim Mugatu, is kept locked away. Oh, and also the site of a number of high-profile murders of famous rock stars. Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Bieber … they've all fallen victim to mysterious killers. And without exception they took selfies of themselves while dying, sporting pursed lips and flinty stares.

There's only one person who might be able to interpret those barely pre-mortem pouts. And Valentina, head of Interpol's super-secret global fashion division, is determined to get his help.

Yep, that's right: Derek Zoolander is going to work for the fashion police.

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Positive Elements

Derek may have the intelligence of an empty soda can, but that doesn't make him a bad person. No, his selfishness does that. But as Zoolander No. 2 progresses, he becomes a mite less selfish. Fatherhood has a way of getting under selfish people's skin, and Derek truly wants to become a real father to his boy. While this trip to semi-maturity takes a great many detours in this very silly movie, Derek eventually forgives Derek Jr. for not being quite the physical specimen he is, comes to appreciate the boy's unexplainable smarts and does his best to make sure the kid isn't horribly murdered—risking his life in the process. "I've made a lot of mistakes in my life," he tells the lad, "but you were the best one."

Hansel exhibits some derring-do, too. But perhaps the show's real heroes are those selfless music stars who sacrificed themselves to protect a mysterious figure known only as "the chosen one."

Spiritual Content

So … the chosen one. This modeling myth seriously twists up the Bible's origin story, alleging that there were three people in the Garden of Eden: Adam, Eve and Steve, the latter man being the first male model. Once Steve was booted from the Garden, he started a family and throughout history, each of his descendants was known as the "chosen one." This, alas, is not a good thing: For it is also said that if someone is able to rip the still-beating heart out of the chosen one and eat it or drink its blood—or something—that person shall be immortal.

It's later revealed that the whole "Steve" story was completely made up. Imagine that!

Derek Jr.'s orphanage has a Catholic affiliation. (We see women wearing nun-like hats and shorts.) Hansel is seen meditating in the deserts of Malibu while posing in painful-looking, yoga-like positions. Derek's dead wife, Matilda, returns in various visions. Neil deGrasse Tyson offers a naturalistic view of existence, suggesting to Derek and others that to ask "Who am I?" is completely pointless in a universe bent on pulling itself apart. Mugatu sports a tattoo of the crucified Christ on his back. Someone wears a crown of thorns. A scene takes place in an old church.

Sexual Content

Hansel is sexually involved (offscreen) with several people and at least one goat, a collective that he calls Orgy. (Included in this ménage à onze are human women, female elves, male sumo wrestlers and Kiefer Sutherland.) He freaks out when he learns that Orgy is pregnant (all members, male, female and non-human, whip out pregnancy tests as proof) and runs away. He then cheats on Orgy in another orgy that we see parts of (from the shoulders up, with suggestive movements, etc.). It includes Susan Sarandon, a bondage-clad Ariana Grande, a rabbi, a chicken and a pygmy hippopotamus. "Meaningless sex always makes me feel better about myself," someone says by way of encouragement. Hansel later goes back to Orgy.

Derek and Hansel meet All, an androgynous model who insists that gender is meaningless. While his/her designer, Don Atari, brags that All recently married himself/herself in Rome, where "monomarriage is finally legal," Hansel presses the dude/dudette about the true nature of his/her gender—using a variety of crass colloquialisms as he does so.

Models wear outfits that reveal quantities of skin. Valentina, we learn, is a former swimsuit model, and she strips down to her strapless one-piece to swim—carrying Derek along. (She insists he grab onto her breasts for flotation.) Derek and Hansel display obvious (but covered) erections after staring at her cleavage. Hansel talks at great length to Derek Jr. about a threesome he had with the little guy's father and mother.

There's talk of prostitutes, masturbation and manual stimulation, also sexual prowess and endurance. In a commercial, milking a cow turns metaphorically sexual. Hansel poses with a champagne bottle suggestively positioned. A door is shaped like someone's backside. There's an intentionally gross, tongue-filled kissing scene.

Violent Content

Justin Bieber is shot about a half-million times—though he still has time to select a nice selfie before he passes from this mortal world. Someone is grotesquely stabbed in the cheek, while another person suffers a knife wound in the leg. Derek and Derek Jr. get into a horrific car crash. (Their convertible tumbles about 20 times down the road, though both are remarkably uninjured.) At least two people die when their necks are snapped. Hansel throws a variety of objects at—and into—Derek's head. Characters jump into a pool of lava (offscreen). A bomb goes off.

Crude or Profane Language

One f-word, one f-word substitute and three s-words, along with a sequin-studded roster of other swears, including "a--," "b--ch," "b--tard" and "h---." God's name is misused, three or four times with "d--n." Jesus' name is abused twice. Susan Boyle flips off the paparazzi.

Drug and Alcohol Content

One of the things Hansel hurls at Derek is a tequila bottle. Willie Nelson makes a smoke-filled entrance.

Other Negative Elements

The hotel Derek and Hansel stay at was apparently built with human excrement. Derek Jr. is encouraged to partake of a lard bar, where the lard pours out of a pig's nose. People are regularly insulted for being fat or old or lame.

Conclusion

While writing this review, my attention was drawn to Plugged In's review of the original Zoolander. Then-writer and now-editor Steven Isaac said of it: "An orgy scene was reportedly edited at least five different times to convince the MPAA to give the film a PG-13 rating instead of an R. The goat is gone, and what’s left is shot from the shoulders up, but the implications are still clear."

Well, 15 years later the goat is back—and it's joined by a chicken, a very small hippopotamus and perhaps a few other animals I've already blocked out of my mind. And the MPAA ratings board apparently didn't even squirm once.

I am not one to say that culture across the board is uniformly getting worse … but to me, this is a great illustration of how the culture has changed—and degraded—in terms of its sexual attitudes.

Zoolander No. 2 has a slightly sweet father-and-son story connected to it. And its jabs at our looks-obsessed culture are welcome. But mostly the flick is silly, salacious fluff—a bit of unseemly drivel determined to use its gags to make us gag. And unlike some movies that could've done away with the unfortunate content and been just as funny, this film is largely predicated on that very content. It depends on it.

That might be fashionable these days. But it'll never be pretty.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Genre

Comedy

Author

Cast

Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander; Owen Wilson as Hansel; Penélope Cruz as Valentina; Cyrus Arnold as Derek Jr.; Will Ferrell as Mugatu; Kristen Wiig as Alexanya Atoz; Kyle Mooney as Don Atari

Distributor

Paramount Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

February 12, 2016

On Video

May 24, 2016

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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