Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #16: Zoolander 2 (dir by Ben Stiller)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by Wednesday, November 30th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


On October 14th, I recorded Zoolander 2 off of Epix.

A sequel to the 2001 cult hit, Zoolander 2 came out earlier this year and got absolutely terrible reviews and quickly vanished from theaters.  Watching the film last night, I could understand why it got such terrible reviews.  Zoolander 2 is not only a terrible movie but it’s also a rather bland one.  Somehow, the blandness is even more offensive than the badness.

Zoolander 2 opens with Justin Bieber getting assassinated and Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) being forced to come out of retirement and discover why pop stars are being targeted.  And, of course, Zoolander can’t do it without the help of Hansel (Owen Wilson)!  Penelope Cruz is in the film as well, playing  Zoolander’s handler and essentially being wasted in a role that could have been played by anyone.

Oh!  And Will Ferrell returns as well.  Ferrell gives a performance that essentially shouts out to the world, “Fuck you, I’m Will Ferrell and no one is going to tell Will Ferrell to tone his shit down!”

Actually, I think everyone in the world is in Zoolander 2.  This is one of those films that is full of cameos from people who probably thought a silly comedy would be good for their image.  For instance, there’s a huge number of journalists who show up playing themselves.  Matt Lauer shows up and I get the feeling that we’re supposed to be happy about that.  There was a reason why people cheered when the sharks ate him in Sharknado 3.

You know who else shows up as himself?  Billy Zane!  And Billy Zane has exactly the right type of attitude for a film like this.  He shows up and he mocks the whole enterprise by giving the Billy Zaniest performance of Billy Zane’s career.  For that matter, Kiefer Sutherland also shows up as himself.  I’m not really sure what Kiefer was doing in the film but he makes sure to deliver all of his lines in that sexy growl of his.  Kiefer knows what we want to hear.

You may notice that I’m not talking about the plot of Zoolander 2.  That’s largely because I couldn’t follow the plot.  This is an incredibly complicated film but it’s not complicated in a funny way.  Instead, it’s complicated in a way that suggests that the film was made up on the spot.  It’s as if the cast said, “We’re all funny!  Just turn on the camera and we’ll make it work!”

The problem with Zoolander 2 is obvious.  The first film pretty much exhausted the comic possibilities of making a spy film about shallow and stupid models.  Don’t get me wrong — the first film did a good job but it’s not like it left any material untapped.  But I would ask you to indulge me as I imagine an alternate reality.

Consider this: Terrence Malick was reportedly a huge fun of Zoolander.

Let’s take just a minute to imagine a world in which Ben Stiller asked Terrence Malick to write and direct Zoolander 2.  And let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that Malick agreed!

Just think about it — 4 hours of Zoolander and Hansel staring up at the sky and thinking about nature.  “What is this thing that causes the heart of man to beat?” Zoolander asks.  “Are we nature or has nature become us?” Hansel replies.

That would have been a fun film!

Music Video of the Day: Side To Side by Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj (2016, dir. Hannah Lux Davis)

Let’s see what things I have already talked about in the area of sex when it comes to music videos:

-Laura Branigan brought us an orgy and being seduced with Self Control.
-Cyndi Lauper brought us masturbation with She Bop.
-Fiona Apple brought us the uncomfortably erotic Criminal that looks like it was shot on the set of a 70’s porno.
-Fifth Harmony loaded Work From Home with sexual references.

I think that’s it.

I didn’t think I would get to a music video in the area of anal sex, or rough sex, depending on how you interpret “getting railed”, till I did Dog Police.

I love that this music video about anal/rough sex is sponsored by Guess. It even premiered on their website.

There isn’t much to say if you’re my age–I thought. I take one look at this and think: Let’s get physical! Physical! I wanna get physical! Except can we do it in a way that comes across as somebody trying to be shocking instead of making something clever?

Director Hannah Lux Davis clearly had that music video in mind when she made this. The look of this gym is based on the one from Physical.

According to Grande in an interview with Ryan Seacrest, she thinks the album Dangerous Woman will move her away from her Nickelodeon image:

“It still sounds like me, but it feels like a more mature, evolved version. There’s a nice blend of the R&B vibes and a nice blend of pop vibes. The whole body of work is a little darker and sexier and more mature…”

Maybe she pulled that logic from Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball. The difference is that the music video for Wrecking Ball referenced Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor, True Colors by Cyndi Lauper, and being her real-self instead of an image assigned to her by others via a reference to the wig from Hannah Montana which represented disguising who you are to please others. That was well-done. The song also had meat and punch to it.

This has Grande wearing a hat that says she is an “Icon” as a stand-in for a mostly shaved head. It has her dressed in an allegedly sexy manner that I guess represents maturity and being herself as a sexual being who isn’t ashamed to talk about anal/rough sex. It also has men turned into Ken dolls that I’m assuming are supposed to be a replacement for the newly buff guys pairing off and leaving the gym together in Physical. Otherwise, I’m not sure why they are around at all. It comes across as similar, but it doesn’t have the same impact when I watch it. I don’t feel anything when I hear the song.

I have never watched her Nickelodeon show, so I am not familiar with what her image was there. However, I can speak about Disney, which is along the same lines. This doesn’t break from that image at all. There’s sex all over their shows in one form or another.

That’s really it. It’s a more explicitly sexed-up version of a late-90s pop-princess music video based on Olivia Newton-John’s Physical, trying to do the same kind of thing as what that video and Wrecking Ball did for Newton-John and Cyrus, respectively. I hope that if she wants to move away from her Nickelodeon image, that she doesn’t let herself get trapped in this image. She has plenty of time. She’s only 23.

6 from 2016:

  1. Music Video of the Day: Work From Home by Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign (2016, dir. Director X)