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'Zoolander 2' is too little too late for Blue Steel fans
Kristen Wiig plays Alexanya Atoz, and Will Ferrell plays Mugatu in Zoolander 2. - photo by Josh Terry
"ZOOLANDER 2" 2 stars Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig; PG-13 (suggestive content and smoking); in general release

Sadly, like "Anchorman 2" and "Dumb and Dumber To," "Zoolander 2" is another argument against waiting a decade before producing a sequel for a popular comedy. Fans will enjoy seeing their favorite characters back in action, and there are a handful of good gags, but expectations beyond that will go unfulfilled.

The plot of the first "Zoolander" was little more than a setup for the wacky antics of Derek Zoolander, Ben Stiller's male model rube of a lead, and "Zoolander 2" follows suit. After a prologue showing Justin Bieber gunned down in an extended sequence of machine gun fire, a montage buzzes us through the last 15 years of Dereks career. First, his school collapses, killing his wife Matilda (Christine Taylor, Stiller's real-life wife) and maiming his BFF/rival Hansel (Owen Wilson). A few years later, he loses custody of his son, and eventually he retreats to a remote cabin to live as a "hermit crab."

It is here that a powerful fashion mogul named Atoz (Kristen Wiig) recruits Derek to be part of her latest show in Rome. Atoz also draws Hansel out of his self-imposed exile in a desert hippie commune.

When they realize theyre in the same show, there is tension since Hansel blames Derek for ruining his career. But soon enough, our old heroes are back to being buds. "I miss not knowing things with you," Derek says.

As it turns out, Atoz isn't interested in reviving Derek and Hansels careers, and according to a sexy Interpol agent named Valentina (Penlope Cruz), the designer may be connected to a plot to assassinate some of the world's most beautiful pop stars. Eventually, the plot extends to Dereks son (Cyrus Arnold) and his sworn enemy Mugatu (Will Ferrell), which provides for a continuous flow of jokes and references to the first film.

If you haven't already seen any of its trailers, "Zoolander 2" will be a more enjoyable experience. Many of its best gags and reveals have already been used in the film's marketing campaign, and they haven't saved much for the theater. They also spend a lot of time on celebrity cameos that feel fresh early on (look for Benedict Cumberbatch as a fantastically weird and creepy model named All) but become overused by the end of the film.

"Zoolander 2" will be fun for existing fans, but it won't win any new disciples to the franchise, and even the old guard will admit the sequel is a step down from the original. It's a strange thing to say about a movie that goes out of its way to be brainless, but where the first "Zoolander" was dumb and charming, "Zoolander 2" is mostly just dumb.

A lot of this has to do with Stillers focus. "Zoolander" was a spirited mockery of the fashion industry (and male modeling in particular), viewed through the eyes of a pair of lovable buffoons. "Zoolander 2" still takes jabs at the industry, but it's driven by our interest in those buffoons, and there's not enough to these intentionally two-dimensional characters to hold our attention.

"Zoolander 2" is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence and brief strong language; running time: 102 minutes
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