Zoolander (USA, 2001)

Directed by: Ben Stiller. This one of those movies that, if you didn’t happen to catch it when you were 10 and it was socially acceptable to be really into stupid comedies, then you’ll have just a little bit less of a common bond with the other adults around you when you grow up. So I was on Netflix the other night, and one thing led to another…But this is actually a pretty funny movie, no kidding. It’s definitely “stupid” in the tradition of a whole generation of 90’s/2000’s SNL spinoffs—so much so that I just realized how exceptional it is that Ben Stiller was never actually a cast member of SNL. This movie is certainly for fans of that whole thing. But, as someone who grew up with that, and who still kind of admires it when it’s done well, I can honestly tell you that this is one of the better iterations of it. I think what makes it work for me—and what probably alienates most people—is the fact that the protagonist isn’t really that sympathetic. The movie is kind of actually mocking that entire convention of the audience totally identifying with the person onscreen in a meaningful and emotional way. Zoolander is just a cartoon idiot in a cartoon world—but God help me, it’s funny. Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell are pretty awesome in this, and a David Bowie walk-on is always welcome. This is not Mel Brooks, and it’s not Stephen Fry, but it’s pretty funny in its own right.

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