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Stiller Killer as Model Extraordinaire

‘Zoolander,’ Despite Foregoing Indications, Elicits New Level of Laughter

By Nick Sidelnik

Directed by Ben Stiller

Written by Ben Stiller, Drake Sather, and John Hamburg

Starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Christine Taylor, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller and Jon Voight

T he new film Zoolander holds the male fashion industry responsible for every major assassination in the last 200 years. Why male models? The reasons are simple. Male models are in excellent shape year round. Secondly, because of their looks, fame, and innate ability to hit it off with bouncers, they can gain access to places the average person can’t. But, most importantly, male models do what they’re told.

Now the male fashion industry heads need a new assassin. Someone so empty-headed, completely clueless, and devilishly handsome that he can be brainwashed to do their bidding.

Enter Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), a character created for the 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards.

Zoolander is a shallow, self-obsessed male model who has lost his #1 model status to Hansel (Owen Wilson), the new face of fashion. As his modeling career appears to be winding down, Zoolander is recruited by the fashion designer Mugatu (Will Farrell) to model his new line of clothes, Derelict. Derelict, however, is just a front for the fashion industry’s new conspiracy, the assassination of the president of Malaysia. Slowly but surely, Zoolander, with the help of fashion reporter Matilda, begins to discover the conspiracy and the reason why no male models live past the age of 30.

Zoolander is a satire of the fashion industry. It addresses issues like child labor in a lighthearted manner, and does a great job poking fun at a stereotypically clueless fashion model who has nothing above his neck but a pretty face. Mock violence abounds; the movie has everything from break-dance-fighting and Fashion Walk-Offs in the manner of street fights, to the Razor Scooter-touting Hansel and playful gasoline brawls.

The antics of the dim-witted models create hilarious situations one has to see to believe. Derek draws laughs with awkward moments spawned by his cluelessness and a mastery of the English language comparable to that of President George W. Bush. Hilarious moments arise as and Derek and Hansel try to remove files from “inside” a computer, to the familiar theme of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The cast gives excellent comedic performances. Stiller wrote the role of Derek Zoolander in such a way that it couldn’t be filled by anyone other than himself. He delivers an animated, acrobatic performance, pouting one moment and doing kung fu flips down the runway the next.

Ferrell, as Mugatu the modern fashion designer, gives another great performance. His outrageous hair and ridiculous modern style are very amusing. As Hansel, Wilson becomes a laid-back, hippie adventurer. He is a great match with Stiller, and the two of them play right off one another perfectly.

Zoolander is a great night’s entertainment. It’s not Oscar material, but it’s sure to bring many laughs.