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Zoolander is a 2001 comedy film directed by Ben Stiller. The films concept is based on the Bret Easton Ellis book Glamorama, with 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 movie feature Derek Zoolander, a dimwitted male model. The title role is played by Ben Stiller, and in the feature film, Zoolander's agent, Maury Ballstein, is played by Stiller's father Jerry Stiller. It was banned and never released in Malaysiamarker.

Plot

Fashion mogul Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) is charged by the fashion industry to find a male fashion model who can be brainwashed in order to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysiamarker at an upcoming fashion show in order to retain cheap child labor in that country. Mugatu, with help from model agent Maury Ballstein (Jerry Stiller), selects for the task the dim-witted but good-natured Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), formerly the top male fashion model in the world but displaced by the up-and-coming Hansel (Owen Wilson) at the latest VH1 Fashion Awards. After losing his fellow male model colleagues in a "freak gasoline-fight accident," Derek announces his plan to retire from modelling and returns home to his father Spencer (Jon Voight) and brothers and tries to work alongside them in the coal mines, but is rejected by his family and returns to New York Citymarker.

Mugatu offers Derek a role in the upcoming "Derelicte" fashion show—a show inspired by the homeless vagrants of New York—and brings him to a day spa to help him prepare for the show. Journalist Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor), who wrote a derogatory article in Time on Derek after his loss to Hansel, becomes concerned for Derek due to the impact of the article, and starts following him. She also becomes suspicious of Mugatu suddenly taking an interest in Derek after refusing to even let him model for him in the past, her suspicions seeming to be confirmed when she fails to find any information regarding Mugatu's past and she receives anonymous calls from a man who tips her off about Mugatu's "spa". Matilda follows the tip and sees Derek go into the supposed day spa, but before she can investigate, she is thrown out by Mugatu's tough female assistant, Katinka Ingabogovinanana (Milla Jovovich). In reality, the "spa" that Derek has been taken to is in fact a brainwashing facility, where he is programmed to attack and kill the Prime Minister when Frankie Goes To Hollywood's song "Relax" is played at the Derelicte show.

After finding Derek in his apartment after he'd been missing for a week, Matilda tries to warn Derek of her suspicions, but is ignored. She follows him to a pre-runway party where he runs into Hansel and challenges him to a "walk-off", judged by David Bowie. After Derek loses to Hansel once again, Matilda takes him with her to escape Katinka, who believes that Matilda may discover the truth and compromise the entire assassination attempt. While escaping, Matilda receives another call from her anonymous source who tells her to meet him at Saint Adonis Cemetery. Her source reveals himself to be former hand model J.P. Prewett (David Duchovny) and tells Derek and Matilda of the fashion industry's influence on political events such as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy and that Derek's life is in danger as the models are killed shortly after they complete their task. They are then forced to flee the cemetery when they are attacked by Katinka and her aides. Matilda realizes that she must hide Derek at the last place Mugatu would think to look, Hansel's house. Derek and Matilda arrive at the residence of Hansel where they explain to him their situation and asks if he can take them in. Hansel tells them that they can stay, but only after he and Derek resolve the conflict between them. While discussing this, Hansel tells Derek that he only held a grudge against him because he was intimidated by him and that in reality, he idolized Derek. While drinking with Derek and Hansel, Matilda reveals that the reason for her dislike of models is because she was overweight as a child and felt even worse about herself when she saw beautiful models in magazines to the point where she became bulimic. Hansel decides to cheer Matilda up by having an orgy, where Derek realizes that he is falling in love with her.

Derek and Hansel break into Maury's office to find corroborating files in his computer while Matilda tries to dig up more information on Mugatu and figure out what the trigger might be for Derek to assassinate the Prime Minister. Matilda finds out that Mugatu was originally named Jacob Moogberg and was the original keytar player for Frankie Goes to Hollywood, but was kicked out before they hit it big with "Relax." Meanwhile, Derek and Hansel are unable to figure out how to even turn on Maury's computer, although Derek decides to leave for the show, not wanting to be late for it even if it means that he might be killed. Matilda later contacts Hansel via walkie-talkie, where she again tells him that the files are inside of the computer, which leads him to believe that there are files physically inside the computer.

When Matilda realizes that the trigger is "Relax", she goes to the fashion show so that she can warn Derek, but is thwarted by Katinka. At the show, Mugatu's disc jockey starts playing "Relax" as Derek takes the runway, and the mental programming takes effect. Hansel breaks into the disc jockey's booth and switches the music to Herbie Hancock's "Rockit", breaking Derek's conditioning. Hansel and the disc jockey begin "breakdance fighting", switching the music back and forth and bringing Derek closer to the Prime Minister, but ultimately Hansel unplugs the sound system just as Derek prepares to snap Prime Minister's neck. Mugatu tries to cover up this failed assassination attempt by claiming that Derek snapped, but Hansel comes to Derek's defense by offering Maury's computer as proof of the conspiracy but smashes it apart in an effort to show the critical files. With the only incriminating evidence against Mugatu seemingly destroyed, Maury publicly admits to the whole conspiracy and reveals that he had backed up the files on a zip disk at his home. In the ensuing chaos, Mugatu attempts to kill the Prime Minister himself with an M-shaped shuriken, but Derek throws himself in its path, turns left for the first time in his life and releases his ultimate look, "Magnum," stopping the weapon with its sheer beauty and leaving all onlookers in a state of awe. Mugatu is apprehended by the police while the Prime Minister thanks Derek for saving his life. Meanwhile, back in his hometown, Derek's father proudly acknowledges his son's accomplishment, having been just as awestruck by Magnum as everyone else.

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", while Derek and Matilda are shown as now having a son named Derek Zoolander Jr who has already developed his first modeling look.

Reception

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 Singaporemarker 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.

The movie's box office was hurt by the fact that it opened two weekends after the September 11, 2001 attacks; it was among the first comedy films after the attacks to enter theaters. In fact, the very first television footage of the attacks, which was shown on Fox 5 - WNYWmarker, interrupted a commercial for the film. In the trailer for the Oliver Stone movie World Trade Center, a poster for Zoolander can be seen in the background as the shadow of the first plane to hit the WTC passes over New York City.

Despite its lackluster initial box office performance, the film developed a loyal cult following and solid DVD sales. It is often shown on Comedy Central and other cable channels.

The film was a moderate critical success, scoring a borderline "Fresh" 62% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Characters

Derek Zoolander

Zoolander's name is derived from the last names of male models Mark Vanderloo and Johnny Zander. The original combination had been "Zanderloo," which Ben Stiller felt was too close to the original sources. While vapid and self-centered, Zoolander is depicted as being a generally nice and well-intentioned person.

Throughout most of the film, Zoolander shows an inability to turn left. (Quote: "I'm not an ambi-turner.") To compensate, he will continuously turn right until he faces the correct direction. So, rather than making a 90° turn left, Zoolander will turn 270° right.

Derek Zoolander is famous for a series of poses which are supposed to be devastating, and have evocative names such as "Blue Steel", "Le Tigre" and "Ferrari" but all in fact consist of him staring at the camera intensely and sucking in his cheeks. As the movie starts, Zoolander is working on a new pose named Magnum, which he unveils to save the day and is in fact the same pose turned left with yet another new name.

Mugatu

The name of the character Jacobim Mugatu is a reference to the Star Trek episode "A Private Little War." In the episode, there is a predatory, venomous primate called a "Mugato". It, like Zoolander's Mugatu, has bright white hair. The name of the character Matilda Jeffries is a reference to Star Trek set designer Matt Jeffries. Ben Stiller has said he is a huge Star Trek fan. This is contrary to theories that Mugatu's name comes from a cross between former African president Mobutu Sese Seko (of Zaire, before becoming Democratic Republic of the Congomarker) and Robert Mugabe (current president of Zimbabwemarker).

When it is revealed that he was a former keytar player for Frankie Goes to Hollywood, his name is shown to be "Jacob Moogberg," a reference to the Moog synthesizer and its inventor, Robert Moog.

"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.

Mugatu is also a parody of the Bond villain Blofeld, who (in the films) is famous for his white cat. Mugatu, on the other hand, is always seen with a white poodle.

Hansel

Hansel, played by Owen Wilson, is Derek Zoolander's rival in the film. As a hot newcomer in the modeling business, he takes the title from Derek as 'Male Model of the Year' in the VH1 awards, resulting in Derek announcing his retirement from modeling. Initially, Hansel is just as hostile towards Derek as Derek is to him. However, when Matilda and Derek need to hide from Katinka, they seek Hansel for help where it is revealed that both models are intimidated by each other and even that Derek's work made Hansel want to model.

Parodic scenes

During Derek and Hansel's "walk-off" runway duel Hansel tells his assistant, "You gotta cut me" (referring to his eyelashes blocking his vision) in a parody of the prize fight scene from Rocky where the lead character, Rocky Balboa, tells his trainer Mickey to lance the lid of his swollen eye, so that he can see to continue fighting. In the original scene, Rocky prompts Mickey with the line "Cut me Mick."

Right before Derek and Hansel's "walk-off" Hansel says "Who you trying to get crazy with ese? Don't you know I'm Loco?" as a quote from the song Insane in the Brain by the group Cypress Hill where the singer says the same thing at the start of the song.

The scene in which Derek and Hansel try to find Mugatu's files but can't because they don't know how to turn on a computer parodies the "dawn of man" scene from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, even featuring the famous Also sprach Zarathustra theme.

When Derek tells Maury Ballstein that he knows it was he who betrayed him, the background soundtrack is the theme from The Godfather Part II, mimicking the scene where Michael Corleone tells his brother Fredo that he has broken his heart by betraying the family.

The scene in which J.P. Prewitt reveals the power of the fashion industry parodies a similar scene between Jim Garrison and Mr. X from JFK.

The scene in which Derek stops Mugatu's M-shaped shuriken is a parody of the scene in The Matrix when Neo stops the bullets being fired at him, and they drop to the ground and bounce as does Mugatu's shuriken.

Cast





Cameos







Soundtrack

The soundtrack to the motion picture was released by Hollywood Records in 2001.

Track listing

  1. "Start The Commotion" - The Wiseguys (Feat. Greg Nice)
  2. "Relax" - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
  3. "Call Me" - Nikka Costa
  4. "Love To Love You Baby" - No Doubt
  5. "I Started A Joke" - The Wallflowers
  6. "He Ain't Heavy... He's My Brother" - Rufus Wainwright
  7. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" - Wham!
  8. "Rockit" - Herbie Hancock
  9. "Beat It (Moby's Sub Mix)" - Michael Jackson
  10. "Madskillz-Mic Chekka (Remix)" - BT
  11. "Faces" - Orgy
  12. "Ruffneck" - Freestylers (Feat. Navigator)
  13. "Now Is The Time" - The Crystal Method
  14. "Relax" - Powerman 5000


Accusations of plagiarism

Fans have noted similarities between Zoolander and the Bret Easton Ellis novel Glamorama. In 2005, Ellis stated that he was aware of the similarities, and said that he considered and attempted to take legal action. Ellis was later asked about the similarities in a BBC interview. In response to the question, he said that he is unable to discuss the similarities due to an out-of-court settlement.

Sequel

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.

References

  1. http://www.imdb.com/news/ni0618008/
  2. Stiller, Ben. Television interview with Jonathan Ross. Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. May 15, 2009.


External links




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