Urban Cinefile
"I did two period pieces so it was like, 'When are you going to get out of the corsets?' and I was thinking 'I just got into them!' "  -actress Frances O'Connor on her first international roles
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Derek Zoolander’s (Ben Stiller) world is knocked off its axis when, anticipating his fourth straight Male Model of the Year Award, it is instead handed to dashing hot newcomer, Hansel (Owen Wilson). Facing the devastating reality that he is no longer the world’s number one supermodel, Derek searches for a purpose in life and returns to his southern New Jersey roots to work in the coal mines with his father and brothers. Rebuffed by his family, Derek returns to Manhattan where the now ubiquitous Hansel is more than he can take. The two stars engage in a model catwalk-off to determine once and for all the best runway talent. Meanwhile, Derek’s agent gets him involved in a bizarre assassination plot.

It's clever alright, very stupid and totally wicked! It's Zoolander. And whoever said male models are damn stupid – well, they're spot on. A piquant parody that puts the letter F into FUN, Zoolander is off-the-wall nonsense from go to whoa. A Ben Stiller showcase, this multi-talented zany performer, writer, producer and actor goes far enough to deliver an ambitious original, so crazy that you may scratch your head and wonder why you're laughing. While it may only be a one-joke premise, Stiller carefully and skillfully prolongs the gag, keeping it fresh and bursting with energy. Stiller's Derek Zoolander is a blast; he beautifully creates a real dodo with a fright of spiky black hair, whose claim to fame is his 'Blue Steel look' (a cross between a quizzical gaze and a sublime pout). The gag, of course, is that his 'Blue Steel look' looks suspiciously like his every other look. Put Stiller next to Owen (Shanghai Noon) Wilson, and you have one very funny pair. Wilson's Hansel is such a scene stealer, and together the comedy bounces from one to the other like a magnetic ping pong ball. Add into the mix Stiller's dad Jerry (a real pro), and Stiller's wife of 18 months Christine Taylor, plus cameos by a sooty faced Jon Voight, Milla Jovovich wearing her fabulously exotic face and a host of stars/celebrities including David Bowie, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Natalie Portman, Fabio, Garry Shandling, Stephen Dorff, Donald Trump, Christian Slater, Tommy Hilfiger, Billy Zane, Vince Vaughn, Winona and Claudia Schiffer. Yes, the fashion industry is strung up, but so is Austen Powers, 2001 and The Godfather, to name a few. Zoolander aims for the funny bone – and it's a bullseye!
Louise Keller

The title could be early Woody Allen (eg Zelig), the subject too. But let’s not get carried away. Zoolander is so vacuous and stupid as to transcend mere bad and hover in the ether, somewhere near exalted, inspired lunacy. It’s so over the top that it’s under the bottom, as it were. Although its target audience is under 30 (well under 30), it draws on a wide range of references that include 2001 - A Space Odyssey and The Godfather – not exactly today’s teen material. The script is inventively shallow, with an enduring sarcasm that appeals equally to cynics and to aficionados (and participants) of the modeling world. At first I resisted the film, letting the stupid, vacant antics of the characters fool me into dismissing it as trash. Then I started to get it, realising there was nothing to get. Like a blast of warmed air from a vacuum cleaner in use, Zoolander is less than the substance of its object but more than you bargained for. Ben Stiller is as irritating as your worst nightmare of a character, and yet he wins you over. The pathetic story reveals something unusual in American mainstream movies: a sense of irony. And the film goes where very few Hollywood movies venture – it undresses itself. It dares.
Andrew L. Urban

Email this article

Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0


Read Brad Green's


CAST: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Jerry Stiller, Christine Taylor, David Duchovny, Jon Voight, Matt Levin, David Pressman, Will Ferrell, Milla Jovovich

DIRECTOR: Ben Stiller

PRODUCER: Stuart Cornfeld, Ben Stiller, Scott Rudin

SCRIPT: John Hamburg, Drake Sather, Ben Stiller


EDITOR: Greg Hayden




AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 1, 2001

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020