Ben Stiller’s Best Comedy Zoolander Is Now Streaming On Netflix
Don’t get me wrong, there are many Ben Stiller movies that I would happily watch over and over again when I need a bit of a laugh.
I never tire of cringing my way through Meet The Parents, and enjoy the excruciatingly funny Meet The Fockers even more. And, of course, There’s Something About Mary is quite rightly held up as one of the greatest comedies of the 1990s.
However, one Stiller film in particular still leaves me cackling almost 19 years after its release, and it has now sauntered and pouted its way onto Netflix.
A gleefully witty send-up of the fashion industry, Zoolander was first and foremost of its time, ridiculing minuscule flip phones, and bringing us cameos from the likes of David Bowie, Emma Bunton and Winona Ryder.
But so much of the humour is still applicable to 2020, with the woefully ignorant ‘Derelicte’ fashion line – inspired by the ‘very homeless, the vagrants, the crack whores that make this wonderful city so unique’ – not looking at all out of place next to recent, and unfortunately all too real, catwalk clangers.
At the 2019 Milan Fashion Week, Gucci models sported ‘fashionable’ straitjackets, to the completely understandable disgust of mental health campaigners. In the very same year, Burberry was forced to apologise after a model walked the runway wearing a sweater with a noose pattern around the neck.
Ethical fashion may very well be ‘in’, but fashion houses are still making the same sort of bafflingly out of touch errors as they were in the heyday of Derek Zoolander. And there are very few other movies out there which do a better job of poking fun at this glamorous yet ultimately ridiculous world.
Zoolander didn’t get the best reviews upon its release, handed a bruising one star review by legendary critic Roger Ebert.
At the time, Ebert described the movie as being ‘exhibit A’ in the reasons why the world hated the US so much, but years later reportedly apologised in person to Ben Stiller for how scathing he had been.
Speaking with director Jay Roach as part of the Tribeca Talks: Directors’ Series at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, as per The Huffington Post, Stiller revealed how Ebert had admitted to finding the film ‘really funny’, explaining that he had gone ‘overboard’ at the time due to the recent tragic events of 9/11.
A full 19 years on and Zoolander has gained legions of fans, many coming to it years after its unfortunately timed release. A goldmine of endless quotes, Zoolander is a delightfully silly movie, with a memorably daft and likeable protagonist at its heart.
Rather than play Derek as a straight up narcissistic moron – although, there are absolutely elements of this in his character – Stiller made us genuinely warm to the empty-headed male model and his dreams for a centre for ‘children who can’t read good’.
We absolutely believe this character to be fundamentally well-intentioned, just as we believe he doesn’t have a basic understanding of computers or the ability to turn left.
There is also no other scene in cinematic history which leaves me more self-conscious about taking Instagram pics than when Derek unleashes ‘blue steel’ on the world.
Paired with Owen Wilson’s hilariously self-centred Hansel McDonald – a faux new age version of Derek who ultimately goes from rival to friend – and you pretty much have the dream early noughties duo.
There are many reasons to re-watch Zoolander this week, from Derek’s comically bad turn as a coal miner to David Bowie’s appearance as judge to the pair’s heated ‘walk-off’ challenge.
To paraphrase Derek himself, this is a ‘really, really ridiculously good looking’ film, and a stand-out among the various Frat Pack movies of the time.
If for some reason you haven’t watched Zoolander, I would thoroughly recommend as an anecdote to the rapidly depleting final days of summer. Great fun, and Stiller at his comedic best.
You can catch Zoolander on Netflix now.
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CreditsRoger Ebert and 1 other
The Huffington Post