Zoolander is a 2001 American comedy film directed by and starring Ben Stiller. The film contains elements from a pair of short films directed by Russell Bates and written by Drake Sather and Stiller for the VH1 Fashion Awards television specials in 1996 and 1997. The short films and the film itself feature a dimwitted male model named Derek Zoolander (a play on the names of Dutch model Mark Vanderloo and American model Johnny Zander), played by Stiller. The film involves Zoolander becoming a pawn in a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia by corrupt fashion executives.
The dim-witted but good-natured Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is ousted as the top male fashion model by the rising star, Hansel McDonald (Owen Wilson), and his reputation is further tarnished by a critical article from journalist Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor). After his three roommates and colleagues are killed in a "freak gasoline-fight accident", Derek announces his retirement from modeling and attempts to reconnect with his father Larry (Jon Voight) and brothers by helping in the coal mines. Derek's delicate methods make him an impractical miner, and his family rejects him.
Meanwhile, fashion mogul Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) and model agent Maury Ballstein (Jerry Stiller) are charged by the fashion industry to find a model who can be brainwashed into assassinating the new progressive-leaning Prime Minister of Malaysia, allowing them to retain cheap child labor in the country. Though Mugatu has previously refused to work with Derek for any show, Derek accepts Mugatu's offer to star in the next runway show. Mugatu takes Derek to his headquarters, masked as a day spa, where Derek is conditioned to attempt the assassination when the song "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood is played. Matilda, who felt partially responsible for Derek's retirement, is suspicious of Mugatu's offer, and tipped off by an anonymous caller, tries to enter the spa, but is thrown out. Matilda tries to voice her concerns to Derek once he leaves, but he ignores her.
Matilda follows Derek to a pre-runway show, where he loses to Hansel in a "walk-off" judged by David Bowie. Matilda receives another anonymous call to meet at a nearby cemetery. Matilda along with Derek find the anonymous caller is hand model J.P. Prewett (David Duchovny), who explains that the fashion industry has been behind several political assassinations, and the brainwashed models are soon killed after they have completed their task (J.P. escaped because he himself is a hand model and so is smarter than the "face and body boys" like Derek.) Before J.P. can explain more, Katinka (Milla Jovovich), Mugatu's tough henchwoman, and her aides attack the group, forcing Derek and Matilda to flee. They decide to go to Hansel's home, the last place they believe Mugatu will think to look, and Derek and Hansel and Matilda bond. Matilda admits the reason she hates models is because, as a child, she was bullied for being overweight and developed bulimia, and she believes models hurt people's self-esteem. Derek and Hansel resolve their differences while partaking of Hansel's collection of narcotics and participating in group sex with Matilda and others. While recovering, Derek also finds that he is falling in love with Matilda. Derek and Hansel break into Maury's offices to find evidence of the assassination plot, but cannot operate his computer to find them. Derek leaves for the show, Hansel following later with the computer in hand, believing that, as told to him by Matilda "the files are in the computer".
Matilda tries to intercept Derek before the show, but Katinka thwarts her attempt. As Derek takes the runway, Mugatu's disc jockey starts playing "Relax", activating Derek's mental programming. Before Derek can reach the Prime Minister, Hansel breaks into the DJ booth, and switches the music to Herbie Hancock's "Rockit", breaking Derek's conditioning. Hansel and the DJ have a brief "breakdance" fight before Hansel eventually unplugs the system, moments before Derek was about to snap the Prime Minister's neck. Mugatu attempts to cover up the incident, but Hansel offers Maury's computer as evidence, smashing it to the ground which he believes would release the incriminating files. Though the evidence is destroyed, Maury steps forward and reveals he had backed up the files, and offers to turn over the evidence of the assassination plot after years of guilt for his complicity in the conspiracy. Mugatu attempts to kill the Prime Minister himself by throwing a shuriken, but Derek stops him by unleashing his ultimate model look, "Magnum", that stuns everyone and causes the shuriken to freeze in the air in front of Derek's face and fall harmlessly to the ground. At Derek's hometown, Larry is watching the event on TV, and proudly acknowledges Derek as his son. Mugatu is arrested, and Derek is thanked by the Prime Minister.
In the film's dénouement, Derek, Hansel, and Maury have left the fashion industry to start "The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too". Derek and Matilda are shown as now having a son named Derek Zoolander, Jr., who has already developed his first modeling look.
- Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander
- Owen Wilson as Hansel McDonald
- Christine Taylor as Matilda Jeffries
- Will Ferrell as Jacobim Mugatu
- Milla Jovovich as Katinka Ingabogovinanana
- Jerry Stiller as Maury Ballstein
- David Duchovny as J.P. Prewett
- Jon Voight as Larry Zoolander
- Vince Vaughn as Luke Zoolander
- Judah Friedlander as Scrappy Zoolander
- Nathan Lee Graham as Todd
- Alexander Skarsgård as Meekus
- Justin Theroux as Evil DJ
- Andy Dick as Olga the Masseusse
- Andrew Wilson as Hansel's Corner Guy
- John Vargas as Italian Designer
- Jennifer Coolidge as American Designer
- Tony Kanal as French Designer
- Nora Dunn as British Designer
- James Marsden as John Wilkes Booth
- Patton Oswalt as Monkey Photographer
The film features cameos by Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Christian Slater, Tom Ford, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Steve Kmetko, Tommy Hilfiger, Natalie Portman, Anne Meara, Fabio Lanzoni, Lenny Kravitz, Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Heidi Klum, Mark Ronson, Paris Hilton, David Bowie, Tyson Beckford (speaking), Fred Durst, Lance Bass, Lil' Kim, Garry Shandling, Stephen Dorff, Sandra Bernhard, Claudia Schiffer, Veronica Webb, Lukas Haas, Carmen Kass, Frankie Rayder, Karl Lagerfeld, Winona Ryder, Billy Zane, Irina Pantaeva, Donatella Versace and Terrell Owens.
"Derelicte" is the name given to the fashion line designed by Will Ferrell's character Mugatu. It is described by Mugatu in the film as "a fashion, a way of life inspired by the very homeless, the vagrants, the crack whores that make this wonderful city so unique." The fashion line consists of clothing made from everyday objects that could be found on the streets of New York. Derelicte is a parody of a real fashion line created by John Galliano in 2000.
The film was never shown in Malaysia, the country mentioned in the film, as it is depicted as impoverished and dependent on sweatshops. Malaysia's censorship board deemed it "definitely unsuitable". The film was also banned in neighboring Singapore due to bilateral sensitivities and the movie's excessive drug use. It was subsequently made available in Singapore in 2006, with the R rating. In the U.S., the film was originally rated R but was later re-rated PG-13 on appeal for sexual content, profanity, and drug references.
In the Asian release, all references to the country of Malaysia were changed to Micronesia, the subregion which Hansel mistook for Malaysia at one point in the western version.
In the United States, since the movie was released on September 28, 2001 (barely 2 weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center), Stiller made the executive decision to digitally remove any backgrounds that originally contained the Twin Towers in the background skyline. Stiller defended his decision to erase images of New York's World Trade Center Towers from the film, saying he did what he thought was appropriate at the time.
The film received positive reviews from critics, scoring a "Fresh" 64% on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 130 critics, as well as a score of 61 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.
Accusations of plagiarismEdit
Glamorama, a 1998 black comedy/thriller novel by Bret Easton Ellis, tells the story of a vacuous and unintelligent supermodel who becomes the pawn of an international terrorist conspiracy hidden deep within the fashion industry. In 2005, Ellis stated that he was aware of the similarities between Zoolander and Glamorama, and said that he considered and attempted to take legal action. Ellis was later asked about the similarities in a BBC interview, but said that he is unable to discuss the similarities due to an out-of-court settlement.
In December 2008, according to media reports Ben Stiller did confirm that he intends to make a sequel to this movie, currently called Zoolander 2 which is presumably only a working title at this early stage. When interviewed on the May 15, 2009, episode of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Stiller said that he was looking at a number of scripts. It was reported by various sources that Iron Man 2 writer Justin Theroux, who also co-wrote Tropic Thunder with Stiller, is set to write and direct the sequel. As of March 2, 2010 Ben Stiller has confirmed he is writing Zoolander 2, stating, "We're in the process of getting a script written, so it's in the early stages. But yeah, it's going to happen."
On a December 2010 episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Owen Wilson stated that a second Zoolander will most likely get made with a working title Twolander.
In January 2011, Ben Stiller confirmed that the script has been completed though confirmation of the film depends on the studios. Stiller commented on the plot of the sequel,
- "It’s ten years later and most of it is set in Europe... it’s basically Derek and Hansel... though the last movie ended on a happy note a lot of things have happened in the meantime. Their lives have changed and they’re not really relevant anymore. It’s a new world for them. Will Ferrell is written into the script and he’s expressed interest in doing it. I think Mugatu is an integral part of the Zoolander story, so yes, he features in a big way.":
Stiller reprised his role as Zoolander on Saturday Night Live while hosting on October 8, 2011, appearing on Weekend Update as Stefon's (Bill Hader's) new friend after Seth Meyers refuses to go to a party with Stefon.
Stiller again reprised his role as Zoolander on Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars which aired on October 21, 2012.
In a scene towards the end of the movie Derek and Hansel are trying to get files from an Apple computer, the scene refers to a scene from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey where the apes are confronted with the mysterious black monoliths, screaming at it and hitting it with bones. Immediately afterwards, the exchange between Derek and Maury references a conversation between Michael and Fredo Corleone in Godfather II ("I knew it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart"). Also, during the 'walk-off' between Zoolander and Hansel, the scene refers to the big fight in Rocky where Rocky asks his coach to cut his swollen eye because he was blinded, Hansel says "cut it, I'm blind out there" and his coach cuts his fringe.