Zoolander 2 touches on a lot — fatherhood, conventional beauty — but it is the way it deals with the passage of time and the transience of fame that has stuck with me most in the two hours since I saw it. The film holds a mirror up to those old guards who have been replaced by artists they perceive to be inferior, in a way I don’t feel I’ve seen before.
A character the first film ridiculed, returns to ridicule his contemporary counterpart. It serves to remind us that even at our peaks, we are disappointing someone who came before us. We are all unworthy successors in somebody’s eyes.
Unworthy younger successors.
A character literally wants to rip off the faces of teenagers and wear them, while countless others think their successors are useless, gimmicky imposters. There is a contradictory push and pull, a desire for and rejection of youth, like the older would do youth better, if only they had the chance. The tragedy is they can’t, and they look ridiculous when they try.
The fact that Stiller crammed that into a film with enough cameos to make Entourage cry, “Excessive!” and enough off-colour jokes to make your head spin, is an admirable achievement. The film will be dismissed for its surface-level stupidity, which is masterful in its own right, but I really hope critics far better than me, and quite possibly younger, have a crack at unpacking it. There are gems there.