When Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), former winner of the coveted Male Model of the Year award, goes to work for up-and-coming fashion designer Mugatu (Will Ferrell), he has no idea that he is walking into a complex web of political intrigue and murder. Mugatu is planning the assassination of a Malaysian politician whose campaign against exploitative child labour looks set to cut into the fashion industry's proft margin, and he sees Zoolander as the perfect person to pull the trigger. The designer brainwashes the model so that he will perform the assassination as soon as he hears the Frankie Goes to Hollywood classic 'Relax', and then sits back and waits for the politician's scheduled appearance at an imminent New York fashion event. Will Derek realise the threat he poses in time to prevent the murder? Or will the cruel and ruthless fashion industry triumph once again?
Ben Stiller originally created the vacuous male model hero of Zoolander for the VH1 Fashion Awards. In his big-screen appearance, Stiller's Derek Zoolander is New York's top model and proud creator of the tight-lipped "facial expression" Blue Steel. However, competition comes in the shape of equally empty-headed young buck Hansel (Owen Wilson), who wins the coveted male model of the year award, much to Derek's dismay. When Derek's vapid friends are then incinerated in an unfortunate petrol station incident he is left vulnerable and alone, perfect fodder for fashion designer supremo Mugatu (a brilliantly surreal Will Ferrell) to hatch a plot of Manchurian Candidate-sized proportions in which Derek is brainwashed into assassinating the Malaysian Prime minister at a fashion show. Derek enlists the help of investigative journalist (Christine Taylor) and even Hansel himself in an attempt to thwart Mugatu's devious plot.
Zoolander works thanks to the central performances. Stiller is endearing in his one-dimensional ineptitude, Wilson is shallow hippie cool personified, and there are some great cameos by the likes of David Duchovny as a Deep Throat-esque informer, Milla Jovovich as the eastern European sadomasochistic henchwoman and Jon Voight as Zoolander's coal mining dad. A constant parade of other celebs pop up throughout playing themselves. Admittedly it's a one-joke film, but there are some classic scenes along the way and at its best Zoolander is an entertaining dig at an industry that takes itself far too seriously.
On the DVD: Zoolander comes to DVD in an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that's clear and crisp with strong colours, which perfectly shows off the cartoonish style of the film. The audio is consistently sharp. Extra junkies will find plenty of material: deleted scenes, including an extended "Mine" scene and Winona Ryder trying to pick-up Hansel; amusing outtakes; and a great commentary from Ben Stiller with writers Drake Sather and John Hamburg. Best of all is the original VH1 Fashion Show skits which were the inspiration for the film. --Kristen Bowditch
--This text refers to the DVD edition.