“Zoolander” is a delightfully silly look of the fashion industry that doesn’t go far enough in its satire to say much of note, or develop a funny enough plot to remember the film as anything but a collection of a few funny scenes. I enjoyed my time with it, largely due to the cast, but you could definitely do better if you were looking for a comedy or a Ben Stiller film.
The fashion industry is already so inherently silly that parodying it either results in just portraying it as it is, or devolving into mindless silliness. “Zoolander” does some of both, and does mine some good comic moments out of it, but the film as a whole doesn’t really work because it never really hooks into the industry in a satisfying way. The plot is also too convoluted and involved for a comedy like this, involving conspiracies, assassinations, brainwashing, etc. The film works best when its doing fairly independent comic skits about fashion and the bizarre characters.
There’s a lot to critique about the writing, but the cast really are delightful. Stiller and Owen Wilson get repetitive at times, but often bounce off each other excellently. There are several memorable lines (”What is this, a centre for ants?”, “But why male models?”, etc.), and some great sequences (particularly the petrol sequence), but the film lacks the coherency and consistent comedy of some of Stiller’s other works.
I give it two hunks of coal, and a gratuitous cameo.