REVIEW: Zoolander 2 (12A) *

PA Photo/Wilson Webb/Paramount Pictures.
PA Photo/Wilson Webb/Paramount Pictures.
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Zoolander 2 is festooned with beautiful people draped in gorgeous fabrics and accessorized with brief appearances from the fashion cognoscenti, including American Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

Unfortunately, when it comes to intellect and wit, Ben Stiller’s sequel doesn’t have a pair of functioning brain cells to rub together.

Scripted by a four-man committee comprising Stiller, Justin Theroux, Nicholas Stoller and John Hamburg, this Bond-esque high-stakes globetrotting caper feels like it has been cobbled together from half-baked ideas that failed to pass quality control.

Like a model tottering precariously down a catwalk on outlandishly high heels, the film is awkward and ungainly, destined to fall flat on its face at least once before the end credits roll.

Stiller and co-star Owen Wilson throw themselves into the fray as numbskull walking clothes horses, flanked by returning cast member Will Ferrell as the film’s bouffant archvillain and new additions Penelope Cruz and Kristen Wiig as femme fatales of law and disorder.

Designer label comic talent of this calibre should glister, but we don’t care a stitch about their garish caricatures.

In a snappy, tongue-in-cheek opening sequence, which turns out to be a false dawn, gun-toting assassins chase Justin Bieber through the streets of Rome.

‘You can’t kill us all. We will protect The Chosen One,’ declares the pop prince before bullets tear through his body.

As he takes his final breath, he adopts the ‘Blue Steel’ facial pout, the signature of male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller) and posts a selfie online.

Agent Melanie Valentina (Cruz) connects the death of Bieber to similar cases involving Madonna, Usher and Bruce Springsteen.

She employs her womanly wiles to recruit Derek and good friend Hansel (Wilson) into the ranks to unmask the perpetrators.

Evidence leads to fashion doyenne Alexanya Atoz (Wiig) and psychopath Jacobim Mugatu (Ferrell).

Meanwhile, Derek orchestrates a belated reunion with his plus-size son (Cyrus Arnold).

Zoolander No. 2 is gormless and charmless, and mustering affection for the lead character is a mission: impossible.

When a bomb threatens to obliterate everyone in sight, I can’t be alone in wishing the device might detonate early.

Every faltering, misguided and soulless frame is liberally doused in the latest celebrity fragrance, eau de desperation, and Stiller’s picture reeks.