In the opening minutes of “Zoolander 2,” Justin Bieber is chased down and riddled with bullets, and haters be all like, “This is the feel-good movie of the year.”
If only that were true. Fifteen years ago, the preposterousness of dueling vacuous narcissistic self-important male models (Ben Stiller’s Derek Zoolander and Owen Wilson’s Hansel McDonald) was prima facia comedy gold. But with the ascent of social media and selfie-sticks making their way up to the oval office, art imitating life is less funny than it is reflective of an unfounded obsession with ourselves. (With his dying breath, Bieber uploads one last photo to Instagram, but not before considering a few effects to enhance it. OK, that was funny.)
Someone is killing pop stars and in their final selfies they all sport the same pouty squint (one headline reads, “Madonna strikes last pose”). As those looks resemble his trademark “Blue Steel” expression (Déjà vulander?) it draws Derek from his self-imposed exile in a remote cabin somewhere in “Extreme Northern New Jersey.” Simultaneously, Hansel is retrieved from his retirement in a sandy dune in “Uncharted Malibu territory.”
The plot, if you can call it that, is strategically masked by a procession of cameos — Katy Perry, John Malkovich, Kiefer Sutherland, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ariana Grande, Susan Sarandon, Willie Nelson … I couldn’t write ’em down fast enough. Apparently back in the Garden of Eden, there was not only Adam and Eve, but Steve, too, in whom was manifest the Fountain of Youth. Anyone drinking the blood of one of his direct descendants could have everlasting beauty. But first they have to get past a line of rock stars who are the designated protectors, like Sting, who, looking a lot like Randy Quaid these days, could use a little drip himself.
Movies like these are why theaters started serving alcohol.
The original was a cult favorite, but like the sequel to 1994’s “Dumb & Dumber,” this one, if it is possible, insults the legacy. (For instance, the hotel the two stay at in Rome is unnecessarily called, Palazza d’Caca. I mean, seriously, that is what passes for comedy in some circles.) Even Penélope Cruz, who heads Interpol’s “fashion police” (yeah, that’s kind of funny), seems miserable … though she looks fabulous.
Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig co-star.
Runway far from this one.
Chris Miksanek is a Rochester freelance writer.
Put these DVDs on your docket
Flags are at half-staff this week for the sudden and unfortunate death of U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia. Hollywood hasn’t featured the high court in many films — I had to play Matlock just to find these:
“The Pelican Brief” (1993)
A riveting John Grisham thriller that stars Julia Roberts as a law student who postulates that two Supreme Court Justices were killed so a Louisiana oilman could drill on protected marshland. Denzel Washington co-stars.
“Half Past Dead” (2002)
Don’t get your hopes up, it’s a Steven Seagal action film. Linda Thorson (“The Avengers”) is a Supreme Court Justice who is held captive after traveling to a prison to witness an execution.
President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews) transforms the Supreme Court into the Extreme Court in this Mike Judge comedy of a dumbed-down future. Co-stars Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph.
Oliver Stone weaves so many JFK conspiracies you may not know what actually happened on the grassy knoll, but you’re sure someone does and that they’re keeping their mouth shut. Kevin Costner stars as New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison, who brought the only prosecution in the 35th president’s assassination. The real Jim Garrison has a cameo as Chief Justice Earl Warren, whose commission was charged with the investigation.