For a review of “Zoolander 2,”
Afilm cannot live on celebrity cameos alone. But “Zoolander 2” is certainly going to try.
Because cameos are lowin calories, and “Zoolander 2” hates calories, because they make you fat, and “Zoolander 2” hates fat because it means you’re a terrible person. But not as much as “Zoolander 2” hates male models, who are dumb and useless. This appears to be the thought process of the sequel to the stupid-funny cult comedy of 2001 that parodied theworld of fashion, in all of its petty extravagances and vanities.
While the first made endearing dim bulb Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) an oftquoted comedy icon, the too little, too late sequel is definitely not so hot right now.
The film can barely unearth itself from underneath the mountain of celebrity cameos out of which it has been crafted. It seems director Ben Stiller and cowriters Nicholas Stoller, John Hamburg and Justin Theroux simply produced a sketchy outline and then group- texted everyone in their phone to stop by the set.
The paper thin plot feels rushed and harried, because it stops every twominutes to make room for random notable names to mug for the camera. To make all of these cameos that much worse, each celebrity says or does something that refers to their career or notoriety, aggressively wink- wink, nudgenudging any potential humor into oblivion.
“Zoolander 2” is at its best when parodying the esoteric, ephemeral uber-cool denizens of fashion. When Derek ( Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) are coaxed out of hiding into walking a show for fashion icon Alex- anya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) and designer Don Atari ( Kyle Mooney), they find themselves out of date and out of style amongst the hippest of the hip. Mooney is spot on as the wunderkind, irony-drenched hipster sporting normcore duds and spouting bizarre slang that Derek and Hansel just can’t keep up with.
This conflict between old and newis jettisoned in favor of a clunky, poorly executed, spy action plot wherein dumb-dumb Derek and Hansel join up with an agent from Fashion Interpol, Valentina (Penelope Cruz) to figure out who’s killing all the pop stars, and rescue his son from the clutches of evil Mugatu (Will Ferrell).
For all the new material that could have been mined for satire, the film chooses instead to overwork old territory from the first time around — Derek’s cognitive abilities of a brain-damaged poodle; Mugatu’s crazed, bloodthirsty ego; Hansel’s allencompassing libido.
There’s not enough of Wiig’s Alexanya, who makes her dialogue funny simply with her line delivery through a mystifying yet hilarious accent (“hot” becomes “hyeoohtt”). Cyrus Arnold, who plays Derek Jr. is a bright spot — the one character who is sharp, sassy and fully possessed of his mental capabilities, though he’s constantly maligned and made fun of.
What frustrates the most is getting a taste of what could have been great in “Zoolander 2,” and then seeing it tossed aside in favor of another cameo, another forced joke, another retread of plot points fromthe origi- nal tossed into an inconsistent jumble.
Eventually, you’ll just be waiting for it to end; the final credits, with Ferrell dancing in his Mugatu get up, are some of the best moments in the film. But for the preceding hour and 40 minutes, “Zoolander 2” is a really, really, ridiculously hot mess.
“Zoolander 2,” a Paramount Pictures release, is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language. Running time: 100 minutes. ⋆ ½
It must be a sign of superhero fatigue that studios are injecting life into the genre via characters who declare that they want nothing to do with heroics.
While the posse of baddies known as the DC Comics “Suicide Squad” will be rolling into theaters later in the summer, Marvel is unveiling their own foul-mouthed antihero just in time for Valen-tine’s Day.
Ryan Reynolds stars as the titular superpower-enhanced jerk in “Deadpool,” a sarcas- tic, cheeky chap in a red suit wielding double katanas — although his tongue is sharper than his swords.
This ain’t your kid brother’s superhero movie. The hard R rating notwithstanding, “Deadpool” is a fourthwall breaking meta commentary on the tropes of the superhero, with an expository flashback nested inside Deadpool’s introductory fisticuffs. During a brutal and bloody massacre on a highway bridge in search of the mysterious “Francis,” Deadpool decapitates goons and causes a multi-car pile up, all the while hurling highly creative and vulgar insults at his victims, with time stretching and pausing for him to fill the audience in on his backstory.
Reynolds arrived in the 2002 National Lampoon college comedy “Van Wilder,” and both that role and “Deadpool” make excellent use of his smarmy comedic delivery. His other, more serious comic book performances have fallen flat (exhibit A: “Green Lantern”), but it’s a good thing that Marvel gave him another chance, because this role fits Reynolds like a glove, playing to his snarky strengths.
“Deadpool” might feel innovative, but the story itself is standard-issue: guy meets girl, guy saves girl. The guy, Wade Wilson, a mercenary for whom no job is too small, and the girl, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) fall in love, bonded by their dark humor and sexual appetite.
When Wade discovers he has advanced-stage cancer, he undergoes an underground experimental treatment, in which his mutant genes are tortured into life by Francis (Ed Skrein) and his hench lady Angel Dust (Gina Carano). The treatment works, imbuing him with powers of super healing and strength, but the side effects are a horrific disfigurement. The vain Wade can’t bring himself to face his girlfriend, and takes on the Deadpool nickname and face-covering suit in order to search for a cure from Francis.
Reynolds’ energetic motormouth performance has its entertaining moments, but a lot of the talk is just smoke and mirrors. While Deadpool disavows the hero thing, the film results in a “Perils of Pauline”-esque rescue of a pretty girl, and the vanquishing of a sneering villain. Women are objects to be saved or sexually leered at ( not even the awesomely tough Angel Dust escapes this treatment).
Two “X-Men” characters serve as foils for the Deadpool antihero philosophy while offering him backup: Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage War-head (Brianna Hildebrand). While Negasonic sports a rad buzz cut that’s almost as rad as her explosive powers, Deadpool writes her off as a texting teen with a ‘tude.
The veneer of twisty storytelling structure, dirty jokes and gory violence can’t cover up the fact that that ultimately, “Deadpool” is a conventional tale about a guy and his powers, with a surprisingly old-fashioned view of gender, love and relationships. What would have been truly genre-bending, innovative and different? A major action film with a character like Negasonic Teenage War-head in the lead.
“Deadpool,” a Twentieth Century Fox release, is rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity. Running time: 108 minutes. ⋆⋆ ½
Ryan Reynolds stars in the Twentieth Century Fox release “Deadpool.”