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It was never meant to be this way.
Zoolander 2, the long-awaited sequel to one of the most cultish and quotable comedies of recent times, was supposed to deflate the over-important absurdity of the fashion world with some memorably silly humor and give the world a bunch of new lines and catchphrases. Alas, the critics are almost tripping over themselves to deride Zoolander 2 as a film full of rehashed, reheated jokes that don’t go anywhere and that’s before they all take umbrage with the labyrinth plot.
As of Tuesday evening the sequel had a 5.8/10 rating on IMDB and a score of 38 on Metacritic. But the numbers and stats don’t quite show how much the film was detested by the critics. So if you’re Ben Stiller, you may want to look away now.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s movie critic David Rooney described the comedy in Zoolander 2 as “too often misplaced” and that the film was “wildly over-plotted” and “under-energized.” Rooney took particular issue with the story elements, saying that “not one of the patchy sequel’s threads really holds together, even within the elastic boundaries of farce.” Rooney enjoyed the moments when Will Ferrel’s Mugatu took center stage but ultimately said the film was “like a cute little outfit burdened with too many accessories, Zoolander 2 is a victim of overkill.”
Entertainment Weekly gave Zoolander 2 a C minus score with reviewer Chris Nashawaty brutally suggesting that the film “feels sad and desperate, like a comic who doesn’t know when to get off stage.” Nashawaty ends his review with the notion that the “only good news is that at the pace the franchise is moving, we won’t get Zoolander 3 until 2030.”
Variety‘s Justin Chang was scathing in his review describing Zoolander 2 as a “disappointment-slash-misfire, the orange mocha crappuccino of movie sequels.”
TheWrap‘s Alonso Duralde said “there are no build-ups or pay-offs here, just a lot of random moments” in the film and that “[e]ven with four writers on hand, this smacks of, “We’ll make up something hilarious on the spot.””
Screen Daily‘s Tim Grierson was equally underwhelmed and opined that “[l]ike many comedy sequels, Zoolander 2 supersizes everything in such a way that it’s much more apparent how few of the jokes are connecting.” Little White Lies reviewer said that director and star “Ben Stiller sleepwalks through this drab, inconsequential comedy sequel.”
British reviewers were somewhat kinder on Zoolander 2 with most having mixed feelings. The Daily Telegraph‘s Helen O’Hara recognized the films faults but said it was “fun” to see a sequel. “It seems unlikely that the premise could ever sustain a third film, but if this is Derek’s swan song then he leaves amid a flurry of feathers and bustle,” wrote O’Hara.
The Guardian‘s review was less scathing but ultimately disappointing, with Peter Bradshaw describing Stiller and Wilson as “so lukewarm right now.” Bradshaw added: “Like a famous band playing live, Derek et al are required to do their greatest hits, not their new stuff — and they don’t really have much in the way of new stuff.”
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