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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Zoolander

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson
Director: Ben Stiller
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: September 2001
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, Jerry Stiller, Milla Jovovich, David Duchovny, Fabio, David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz, Natalie Portman, Billy Zane

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie review
3.  Harvey Karten read the review ---
4.  Susan Granger read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

Making a movie that's stupid fun must be really hard since most filmmakers that try end up with a picture that's merely stupid. Rarely are they as successful as Ben Stiller is with ZOOLANDER, a film in which he is the director, star and co-writer. The laughs come loud and often. And there aren't any that will leave you embarrassed for succumbing to laughter. Both physical and verbal, the jokes are not only silly but good-spirited as well, as the comedy pokes fun at the male modeling profession.

In a story that redefines the meaning of shallowness to something approaching the width of a light beam, the movie stars two dimwits, Derek Zoolander (Stiller), three-time male model of the year, and Hansel (Owen Wilson), his new competition. Zoolander, who got the idea of being a model during his first time in second grade, is at the top of his form. With his famous "blue steel" look, he's invincible. Or maybe not. Stiller, certainly is. The speech pattern alone that he developed for the movie is worth the price of admission, and it's hard to figure out if he is better as a director, writer or star. I suspect, however, that he could have gotten his movie made a lot cheaper. From production designer Robin Standefer to costumer David C. Robinson, everyone associated with it clearly had so much fun that they probably would have worked for nothing.

And speaking of people who were probably paid just scale, the movie has a long series of great cameos. Watch for several when Zoolander goes briefly to work with his family in the harsh environment of a southern New Jersey coal mine. My favorite cameo is David Duchovny's as the world's most famous hand model. In an X Files setting, he meets Zoolander and his companion, Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor), at night in a graveyard to warn of unknown dangers.

The plot involves an evil clothing manufacturer, Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell), who secretly turns male models into killing machines. Most of the movie, however, concerns itself more with the life and times of male models than with any dastardly deed. "Did you ever think that there was more to life than being really, really, really good looking?" Zoolander asks his fellow male models in the story's recurring, rhetorical question. He and his buddies have a music video moment that proves too hot for them to handle, but it does get them properly memorialized.

Among the many excellent minor characters is Milla Jovovich playing a Natasha-like character called Katinka. There really isn't a Boris character, but Ben's father, Jerry Stiller, does a nice job as Zoolander's boss, Maury Ballstein. Maury heads an organization called Ball Models. The jokes come so fast that it would probably take a couple of viewings to catch them all.

Among many superb scenes, none outdoes the "walk off." Like a couple of teens from THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, Zoolander and Hansel go to a secret location to face off on a runway, where they challenge each other. It's a cross between a boxing match and a drag race. And like the rest of the movie, it's hilarious.

ZOOLANDER runs just 1:30. It is rated PG-13 for "sexual content and drug references" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the film *** 1/2. He found it really funny and quite creative.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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