Zoolander (2001)
Main cast: Ben Stiller (Derek Zoolander), Owen Wilson (Hansel), Will Ferrell (Jacobim Mugatu), Christine Taylor (Matilda Jeffries), and Jerry Stiller (Maury Ballstein)
Director: Ben Stiller


Can someone tell me when did Malaysia turn into China, Chairman Mao era? I am stunned to find that the Malaysia in this movie is overrun by people gathering at a place looking suspiciously like China and zealously cheering a Chinese wizened-looking post-junkie-habit Chairman Mao lookalike. By all means, take as much creative license as you need, people, but Malaysia is not China. It's not even close.

And half of us hate our Prime Minister, but don't quote me on that.

Anyway, this movie has one amazing premise: all the political assassinations in the last 200 years are carried out by fashion people. You see, whenever someone imposes sanctions or starts a war and stops trade of expensive Gucci or whatever thingies, the fashion people get mad, and a Shadow Conspiracy Team will despatch a male model to do the bang-bang on the politicians responsible.

Why male models? According to the guy who knows, hand model JP Prewitt (David Duchovny with a beard and alas, no butt shots), male models are physically fit, and as a plus, they are so dumb that they can't think for themselves. Ergo - perfect suicide bombers.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia (played by a weaselly looking Woodrow Asai who will definitely won't be on the real Malaysian PM's birthday invitation list) is abolishing sweat shops in Malaysia (oh, and yes, this movie is banned in Malaysia by the way), and the Fashion Folks are not happy. Who will provide the cheap labor now? So they decide to get a dumb male model, brainwash him to kill when Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax" is played, and places him near the Prime Minister of Malaysia while "Relax" is playing. Simple. But who's the lucky moron chosen for the honor?

Derek Zoolander, that's who. A really stupid fellow - trust me, he is really dumb - who is crushed when he lost the Model of the Year award to fellow dumbass rival Hansel, he thinks that maybe there may be something more to life than being a model. Sure, models have a great place in people's lives, he knows, because models make uglier, normal people feel good (I am quoting this movie), but maybe... still, a career as a coal miner with his daddy and brothers (why is Vince Vaughan, playing Ben's brother, looking at Ben so lustily in this movie?) doesn't pan out. When Mugatu, who unknown to Derek is a big shot in the Shadow Conspiracy, hires him, Derek unknowingly places his life in danger. It is up to Times reporter Matilda Jeffries to save him. Matilda is the one with some semblance of IQ in this movie, until Derek lets down her hair and introduces her to group sex with dwarves (don't ask), that is.

Zoolander is hilarious and it really rips into the general stereotype that models are airheads. (Actually, if real life interviews with models are anything to go by, this movie may not be that far off the mark.) But when Stiller can be cruel, he chooses instead to play Derek Zoolander as an earnest puppy whose insensitivity is because of his ignorance and not out of spite. In the world of this movie's models, bulimia is normal because... well, it makes sense to look thinner before a fashion shoot. I laugh, and I cringe at the same time.

The humor in Zoolander isn't subtle, but at the same time, there's some signs of life behind the stupidity dancing around the screen. This movie knows where and when to aim for the jurgular. As a result, this member of the audience has a fine time laughing at the unbelievably dense Derek Zoolander. Yeah, he's as dumb as rocks, but you know what? He's okay.

Rating: 85


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