Friday, 19 September 2014
I don't generally watch a lot of comedies. Not intentional ones, anyway. And I'm certainly not a fan of the crass, bodily fluids kind of comedies that originally launched Ben Stiller to stardom: I've seen the trailers for Meet the Parents and There's Something About Mary, and that's more than I need to see of either film.
Despite that, I like this film a lot. It's by no means a subtle or especially insightful example of humour: "models are vain and not very bright" and "a lot of 'fashion show fashion' is deeply stupid" are not exactly observations of stunning perspicacity. But the film commits to its jokes 200%, ramping them up to such utter levels of absurdity (and simultaneously sending up various tropes of fiction with much the same energy) that it's hard not to smile as you're watching it.
The plot? The new prime minister of Malaysia plans to raise the minimum wages of garment workers, a policy that will have dire impacts on the profitability of the fashion industry. The secret cabal that runs the industry appoints the eccentric Jacobim Mugatu to find and train a male model as an assassin: but not just any male model. Only the most vapid simpleton could be brainwashed into a killer in the scant 14 days available to Mugatu.
Derek Zoolander (Stiller's character) is that male model. He's hysterically stupid, vain and self-absorbed, making him the perfect patsy for Mugatu: but he's also questioning his place in the fashion industry after losing the Male Model of the Year award to newcomer Hansel. Will Derek accept Mugatu's job offer and become an unwitting assassin? Will the film pile ridiculous stunt cast after ridiculous stunt cast on top of one another? Will there be incredibly nerdy gags buried in the blizzard of stupid? Will Derek ever perfect the new 'look' he's been working on for the last eight years? The answer to these questions will never really be in doubt, but surprises are most definitely not the point of this film.
If you're in the mood for a deeply silly, deeply absurd bit of cinematic nonsense, you could do worse than Zoolander.