Volume 95, Issue 18

Tuesday, October 2, 2001
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Grade-A, Canadian hardcore

Don't spend a dime or waste your time

Zoolander is Ben Stiller-iffic

An emotional trip to the Hearts In Atlantis

Zoolander is Ben Stiller-iffic

Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell
Directed By: Ben Stiller

By Christina McKenzie
Gazette Writer

Only one man is famous for his "good looks" and exaggerated cheekbones. Only one man has a tendency to dress in clothing with muscle imprints and snakeskin patterns. Only one man is Derek Zoolander.

Ben Stiller plays Zoolander, a famous model in the spoof film of the same name, designed to mock the "glamorous" fashion industry.

The well-chosen cast includes Saturday Night Live's Will Ferrell as the fashion designer Jacobim Mugatu and Milla Jovovich as his dominatrix accomplice Katinka. Ben Stiller's father, Jerry Stiller, also appears as Maury Ballstein.

Directed by Ben Stiller himself, Zoolander remains true to the air-headed and shallow stereotypes of runway models.

Derek Zoolander is a male model who found his calling when he discovered his stunning reflection in a kitchen spoon. As a well-established modell, he now finds his career threatened by the rise and popularity of Hansel, a younger model played by Owen Wilson.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Malaysia has become the target of Mugatu and Katinka's evil plan when they learn of his hopes to introduce child labour laws and subsequently shut down sweatshops.

Because of Zoolander's obsession with his tiring looks, he's vulnerable enough for the villains to take advantage of, brainwash and program him to assassinate the Malaysian leader.

Of course, the conventions of comedy provide us with a minor love plot, as Zoolander falls for the keen reporter (Christine Taylor), devoted to piecing the sweatshop puzzle together.

The action, set mostly in New York City, slides from corporate offices to cemeteries and of course, to the many catwalks treaded by Zoolander and Hansel. The two even compete in a "walk off," where one tries to outdo the other with increasingly creative struts.

The glitter and glamour of the central cast is enhanced by a slew of cameo appearances by other Hollywood notables, including Winona Rider, Andy Dick, Christian Slater, Lenny Kravitz, Natalie Portman and David Bowie.

If you wash over the layers of superficial model personas and Zoolander's idiot logic, moral undertones can be found. The film touches upon the realities of child labour and its continual productivity as linked to the consumerism of the modeling industry.

However, this issue is presented within Zoolander's brainwashing session and is not disruptive to the genre of the film.

Zoolander is highlighted by the character's individual quirks: Zoolander's pathetic naiveté, Mugatu's neurotic flamboyance, Ballstein's prostate preoccupation and Katinka's overwhelming domination provide sheer entertainment and humour.

Thanks to all of the film's colourful characters, it's certain that while viewing Zoolander there won't be any difficulty remaining awake, especially during the orgy scene.

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Copyright © The Gazette 2001