Making a sequel is not easy. Making a sequel to a movie 16 years removed and which only had a niche following to begin with is sure as hell going to require a whole lot of cleverness. Unfortunately, the words “clever” and “Derek Zoolander” tend to never really exist in close proximity to each other. Or even in the same solar system.
Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Zoolander No. 2, catches us up with actor/writer/director Ben Stiller’s titular sharp-featured/blunt-brained male model who is now living as a “hermit crab” in grief-induced isolation after his architectural buffoonery on The Derek Zoolander School for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too caused the accidental death of his wife Mathilda. On top of which his boneheaded single-parenting skills has also resulted in him losing custody of his son Derek Jr (Cyrus Arnold).
Swapping out Blue Steel for Grey Sadness, he has completely lost touch with the world at large, but is given a mysterious but fashionable lifeline when he is asked by fashionista queen Alexanya Atos (a ludicrously accoutred Kristen Wiig) to model in a new show she’s putting on in Rome by current “it” designer Don Atari (Kyle Mooney in full motormouth mode). Urged on by Atos’ messenger Billy Zane, Zoolander sees this return as a means of convincing the courts of his stability as a parent, and perhaps getting his son back whom he has not seen in nearly a decade.
Also requested to once again strut the catwalk for Atari is Zoolander’s rival turned friend Hansel (Owen Wilson) who has also been avoiding the wider world after the same accident that claimed Mathilda’s life left his once cover-model face an unsightly mangled monstrosity. Well, relatively. Abandoning his hodge-podge desert orgy menagerie – a more random and bewildering collection of sexual partners you’ve never seen – he sets off for Rome where he meets up with Zoolander, only for the pair to discover that they’re not there to revive their beleaguered fashion icon status but really only to be the meta punchline in a big fashion world joke.