Tuesday 30 April 2013

A to Z - Zoolander

I was really tempted to choose Zombieland for my final entry, but I've already featured zombies and not much comedy, so I thought I'd go instead for something silly that features a cameo by David Bowie - the one and only Zoolander (2001).

Zoolander is named for Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), the egotistical and implausibly short male model who begins to question his career after he loses out on a modelling award to the equally egotistical Hansel (Owen Wilson). Thing is, he might be getting a bit old for modelling, but Derek is stupid enough to be a perfect candidate when an international fashion cartel need the Prime Minister of Malaysia assassinated to prevent his human rights laws affecting their sweat shop labour.

Where there's a conspiracy, there's a journalist, and Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor) is determined to clear Derek's name after she works out the plot to use male models as assassins. She doesn't just have to work around Derek's colossal stupidity - she also has to face Katinka (Milla Jovovich), an intimidating PA working for fashion designer, Mugatu (Will Ferrell). Can Derek resist his brainwashing and save the Malaysian Prime Minister, or will he be the killing machine he's been trained to be?

Zoolander is, in a word, silly. What other word could you use for a film that features a grizzled David Duchovny as a conspiracy theorist hand model, and a 'walk off' instead of a rumble? I think that's part of its charm - Derek and Hansel describe themselves as being "ridiculously good looking", and with all due respect to Stiller and Wilson (the latter of whom is cute in his own way but he's hardly Michael Fassbender), I think they know that they aren't. Still, in doing so, they expose the vapid and shallow side to male modelling, and make a good case for "looks aren't everything". None of the cast take it seriously, and send themselves up something chronic - yet they're not really make fun of themselves, more the stereotypes they portray. It's also perhaps one of the few films in which Will Ferrell is actually funny.

Zoolander also wins prizes with me for being eminently quotable. OK, so a lot of them don't work outside of context, but fellow fans will always get the reference. (Might explain why me saying "I think I got the black lung, pop" in a high voice after a coughing fit sometimes earns me weird looks). Orange mocha frappuccino, anyone?

I thought I'd end this post with my favourite scene, in which Hansel and Derek challenge each other to a walk off as they fight to prove who's the best male model, once and for all.


Tony Noland said...

Sounds like it's a favorite of yours!

Bevimus said...

Whenever I'm trying to pep people up I end my little speeches with "Because you never know when you're friends are going to die in a freak gasoline fire accident". Said through pursed lips, of course. What a great choice for Z.

Congratulations on making it all the way through the alphabet! We're done!

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