For a re­view of “Zoolander 2,”

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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a show for fash­ion icon Alex- anya Atoz (Kris­ten Wiig) and de­signer Don Atari ( Kyle Mooney), they find them­selves out of date and out of style amongst the hippest of the hip.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.”

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