Zoolander (2001)
August 25, 2014 11:19 AM - Subscribe

Cult film of the week: Comic actor Ben Stiller co-wrote, directed, and stars in this spoof of the fashion industry that began as a short skit for the 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards. Stiller is Derek Zoolander, an intellectually challenged but bone structure-blessed male model who's despondent after being eclipsed in popularity by an equally vacuous rival, Hansel (Owen Wilson). Upon his reluctant retirement, Derek is invited to a day spa by previously standoffish fashion designer Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell), where the befuddled model is brainwashed by the mysterious Katinka (Milla Jovovich) into assassinating the prime minister of Malaysia. In addition to Stiller's real-life wife Christine Taylor, Zoolander co-stars his father Jerry Stiller, along with Jon Voight, David Duchovny, Andy Dick, and Fabio.

-- New Cult Canon on Zoolander: It’s a house built without foundation, always a few bad lapses away from collapse. But Stiller turns that haphazardness into an asset: With the fashion world as a broad subject, he frees himself to go far afield without having to serve a more tightly constructed script.

-- Apparently it's one of Terrance Malick's famorite movies.

-- 10 Reasons Why Zoolander Is a Masterpiece

-- 15 things you (probably) didn't know about Zoolander

-- Zoolander 2?
posted by maxsparber (19 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
...but why male models?
posted by leotrotsky at 11:31 AM on August 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

along with Jon Voight, David Duchovny, Andy Dick, and Fabio.

I think you mean along with BOWIE.
posted by selfnoise at 11:41 AM on August 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

So I thought I'd seen this movie when it came out. I mean, I got all the references (school for ants, "really, really, ridiculously good-looking", Blue Steel...), but apparently, it was just because everyone was quoting it, because I watched it on Amazon Prime a few months back because there was nothing on TV, and it was completely new to me and I damn near pissed myself laughing.

This movie should not work. It totally, absolutely, 100 percent should not. It's like six different movies in one, and it telegraphs how it's lining up every. single. trope (ashamed family, rivalry turns into competition turns into alliance, stupidly overcomplicated villain scheme...) so hard that you can practically see Ben Stiller's dog-eared copy of Story in his back pocket. And yet, in a way that even Stiller can't do consistently, it knocks them down in ways that aren't quite different, but that work anyway. I think a big part of that is how it treads so closely to being wink-wink-aren't-we-hipster-meta without ever stepping over the line into actual meta.

I fear that the sequel won't be able to resist stepping over the line.
posted by Etrigan at 11:59 AM on August 25, 2014 [7 favorites]

This movie should not work. It totally, absolutely, 100 percent should not.

I agree completely. I refused to watch this movie at first. I already wasn't too keen on Ben Stiller and the whole thing just looked incredibly stupid. A friend begged me to watch it one rainy day and I relented.

To this day I can barely put gas in my car without giggling uncontrollably.
posted by futureisunwritten at 12:13 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

...but why male models?

There should be an Academy Award for Best Bit Performance backdated to 2001 just so they can give it to Duchovny for not breaking character in that moment. What could easily have been a hilarious bit on the blooper reel became the mission statement of that movie: "Here's just how dumb this guy is, but he's going to win anyway, because he's too dumb not to."
posted by Etrigan at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think you mean along with BOWIE.

No, it's Bowie, along with Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson, and some other people.

I hadn't seen Zoolander until this summer - not out of any conscious decision to avoid it, just because I never felt the need to (again, despite knowing the School For Ants reference). Then I went to a showing at my local Drafthouse and I am appropriately ashamed of how I wasted the previous 13 years of my life.

(I'm very glad I went in mostly blind - I knew that one gag and a few scattered others, but Bowie, Duchovny, and a bunch of other great bits/cameos were total surprises.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:36 PM on August 25, 2014

This was our goto movie in the video rental store I worked at in college. I don't remember why, it may have simply been that there weren't any good PG movies released at that time worth putting on. I didn't think much of it at first, but after several more viewings it grew on me, a lot! It wasn't until probably a year later that I actually sat down to watch it in my own living room, at which point the quotable bits were deeply ingrained in memory, but it was even better. It wasn't just about the throwaway jokes, or the many, many, many cameos, but there was a story there that made you care about these characters. I still think it's a movie that gets better with each viewing (I've watched it recently on Amazon). Our whole circle of video-store employee friends had essentially the same experience with this movie and we became Zoolander fans for life!

The thought of Andy Dick as Mugatu is unbearable though, thank goodness that fell through!
posted by TwoWordReview at 3:47 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am going to give iTunes credit for not mentioning Bowie in fhe description I cribbed from them, as you don't want to ruin the surprise for people who haven't seen the film.
posted by maxsparber at 3:54 PM on August 25, 2014

The thought of Andy Dick as Mugatu is unbearable though, thank goodness that fell through!

I didn't know that before. You can see that the part was tailored for Andy Dick, but also why Will Ferrell is the reason Mugatu is actually funny in the film.
posted by kewb at 6:11 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I didn't know that Andy Dick was the original for Mugatu. Now I can hear Ferrell delivering the lines with Dick's cadence, but not in that terrible Dick way.

I feel like this movie couldn't have been made after 2001. The music, the cameos, the ZipDisk...

The Mugato
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:47 PM on August 25, 2014

The celebrity set must've been a nightmare yet Stiller elicits great performances from Voight, Duchnovy and Jerry Stiller (his dad!) which provides the foundation for the rest to be fearlessly silly.
It is a deeply personal, sincere and honest film which is why I think it's so loved.
posted by fullerine at 5:38 AM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

…but why male models?
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:10 PM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

I still think it's a movie that gets better with each viewing

Hell yeah! About the time this came out on DVD, my circle of friend always seemed to end up at this one friend's apartment where, inevitably, we would watch Zoolander (drugs were involved, if that helps explain things). I've probably seen this movie at least a couple dozen times, and I don't think I would mind seeing it a few dozen more. It's charming bizarreness grows on you.

Also, that was more than a two word review.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:14 PM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can only fit bad reviews in two words :)
posted by TwoWordReview at 3:04 PM on August 28, 2014

Also: Alexander Skarsgard, male model. YES PLEASE.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:17 PM on August 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Zoolander is the funniest movie made this millennium. Not only was it hilarious in 2001, but it has held up incredibly well. My wife and I still watch it on a regular basis, and it is one of the few movies that we both enjoy.

Ben Stiller makes a lot of movies, some good, some bad, but this one just totally nailed it. Brilliant.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:19 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh and has no one really said "you can dere-lick my balls"? Well you can, Capitan.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:28 AM on August 30, 2014

If I had a dollar for every time I described something as "so hot right now"....
posted by DynamiteToast at 12:35 PM on September 15, 2014

To me, this movie is like the Airplane/Naked Gun movies with the silliness and literal jokes, and I am a sucker for that kind of humor. I think I use more lines from this movie than any other.

World of Warcraft has a Zoolander Easter Egg on the Goblin starter isle Kezan. There is a gas station featuring Goblin Supermodels who are having a gasoline fight

And I hope I'm not the only one who has an inner chuckle when I'm at a funeral and someone is about to give the eugoogley.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:21 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

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