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WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

The fashion world has moved on in the fifteen years since the “really, really ridiculously good-looking” male models Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) were strutting their stuff on the catwalk.

Since a tragic accident at his school for “kids who can’t read good and wanna learn to do other stuff good too,” Derek has been living as a hermit crab in the snowy wilderness of northern New Jersey, while Hansel has retreated to  a remote desert commune.

In their place, a sexless supermodel called All (Benedict Cumberbatch) is now the one all the great designers are after.

But when a number of pop-stars turn up dead, sporting one of Derek’s trademark modelling looks, Agent Valentina Valencia (Penélope Cruz) from Interpol’s Fashion Police invites Derek and Hansel back into the limelight to help her solve the murders.

Conveniently for Derek, Valentina is based in Rome, where – it turns out – his estranged teenaged son has been living since social services took him away.

All that’s standing in the way of him helping solve the pop-star murders and rebuilding a relationship with Derek Junior (Cyrus Arnold) is the latest plan hatched by the dastardly fashion super-criminal Mugatu (Will Ferrell).

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

When Derek Zoolander was first unleashed on cinema audiences, he was a breath of fresh air – a character so vain, yet so adorable and most importantly so funny, that the film could be enjoyed over and over again and catch-phrases made it into the vernacular of fans around the world.

Cameos were well-used and more importantly, the satire was deliciously biting while the comedy was deliciously silly, with a handful of laughs that were so unexpected that they lived with audiences for years.

So expectations were high on the news that Ben Stiller was bringing his creation out of retirement.

There is a sense in which he had an easy job, as fans would accept almost anything to see him back and the character was well enough drawn that much of the comedy writes itself.

But in ticking so many boxes, this sequel is playing to the choir and has fails to surprise. There is no “bulimic” moment – none of the innocent “the files are in the computer” gags.

This time around, the jokes are too knowing, cynical almost. The story is completely bonkers – although that’s excusable in the circumstances. There are a handful of belly laughs – some of which are shamefully obvious, others painfully arch and others falling short of the mark – you’ll laugh, but you won’t be proud of yourself for doing so and your sides are unlikely to split. Most of the best scenes revolve not around the two leads but Will Ferrell, as their nemesis, who’s final outburst is the closest that Zoolander 2 comes to its predecessor.

Even the satire is more lazy than last time and too much of the humour relies on a lengthy list of cameos including some of the highest-profile living fashion icons, alongside cheesy pop-stars and respected actors who perhaps shouldn’t have been so trusting of Ben Stiller.

Anyone who liked the original will be entertained but quite possibly disappointed in equal measure, as Stiller and his team set out to make you laugh in a clinical fashion, rather than by letting the comedy spread organically. This is very much off-the-peg rather than couture – designed for mass-market appeal, rather than to turn heads.

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