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Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller, David Duchovny, John Voight
Drake Sather, Ben Stiller, John Hamburg

3% Body Fat. 1% Brain Activity.

At the end of his career, a clueless fashion model is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend:
$15,525,043 on 2,507 Screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $16.99
Release Date: 2/2/2016

• Audio Commentary With Actor/Writer/Director Ben Stiller and Writers John Hamburg and Drake Sather
• Five Deleted Scenes With Commentary By Ben Stiller
• Five Extended Scenes With Commentary By Ben Stiller
• Outtakes
• Two Original Skits From VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, 1996/1997
• Wiseguys’ “Start the Commotion” Music Video
• Promotional Spots
• Photo Galleries
• Alternate Brainwashing Sequence
• Breakdance Fight Rehearsal
Zoolander 2 Teaser
• Easter Egg


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Zoolander [Blu-Ray] (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 29, 2015)

Though he played on Saturday Night Live and his own short-lived 1992/93 sketch comedy series, I don’t think Ben Stiller engaged in a full cinematic spoof until 2001’s Zoolander. That film also offered a project that was fully his, for better or for worse.

Stiller never wrote any of his prior flicks, whereas he penned Zoolander along with co-writers Drake Sather and John Hamburg. Of course, he starred in it as well, and Zoolander was Stiller’s third directorial effort; he also helmed 1994’s Reality Bites and 1996’s The Cable Guy.

Also known as “Jim Carrey’s first commercial dud”, the latter produced a stench that apparently kept Stiller from the director’s chair for half a decade. In the interim, he became a decent-sized star, so I guess he figured the time was right for a full-on Stiller masterpiece.

Does Zoolander become that magnum opus? Nope. Overall, it has some fun moments, but it reinforces for me my feeling that Stiller tends to be more clever than funny, at least in terms of his parodies.

We follow famous male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller). One of the field’s all-time greats, we see him as he goes for a fourth consecutive model of the year award. His only competition? A brash young newcomer named Hansel (Owen Wilson). Hansel grabs the prize, but the oblivious Zoolander doesn’t notice and strides to the podium anyway.

This begins Derek’s downfall. In addition to this embarrassing event, Time magazine journalist Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor) pens a negative article about the model. This adds to his funk and he quits the business.

Oh, and it doesn’t help that Derek’s three male model roommates and friends all blew up at a gas station. He returns to his South Jersey coal-mining family and tries to fit in with that scene but fails again.

In the meantime, the fashion world is rocked when the new prime minister of Malaysia (Woodrow W. Asai) promises labor reform, which will cut off the supply of cheaply made garments. A spooky panel demands that he be killed, and they need a total moron like Zoolander to do the deed. Above the objections of his agent Maury (Jerry Stiller), the machine sets in motion, and superstar fashion designer Mugatu (Will Ferrell) concocts a plan to brainwash Zoolander.

Throughout the movie, this plot slowly starts to unravel, and Matilda is the one to figure out some of the pieces. Zoolander returns to modeling when Mugatu lures him into the fold – all as a pretense for the scheme – and Derek also deals with his rival Hansel. Of course, Zoolander and Matilda start to fall for each other as well.

As a whole, Zoolander is a pretty scattershot flick. Essentially I’d describe it as This Is Spinal Tap meets The Manchurian Candidate.

At times, the film works reasonably well, and it contains some entertaining moments. However, virtually all of these occur due to the supporting actors; I still fail to see Stiller as an accomplished comic, at least when it comes to this kind of parody.

While it’s necessary for Zoolander to be an idiot, Stiller fails to find any heart in the role. Derek’s simply too stupid to live.

Hansel’s a moron as well, but Wilson actually manages to make him seem like a nearly believable person, whereas Stiller’s turn is so forced and artificial that it never goes anywhere. Much of the time the movie shows potential, but Stiller actively hurts it.

On the other hand, most of the supporting actors provide fine work. As noted, Wilson does a lot with the role. Despite his bizarrely misshapen nose, I accept him as a model, whereas Stiller always seems to “play-act” the part.

In addition, Ferrell is very funny as Mugatu. Ferrell does nicely as the freaky designer and helps create an entertaining and amusing personality.

One fun aspect of Zoolander relates to the film’s scads of cameos. Some flicks use star appearances gratuitously, but for this one they’re an integral – and clever – part of the tale.

Most come from folks who play themselves, while others feature famous people in different roles. I really like the star turns, though, especially since they come as a surprise. If you haven’t already seen the film, make sure you avoid cast listings – it might take away some of the fun if you know who’s there in advance.

Overall, Zoolander offers a moderately entertaining flick. Its weaknesses relate to its most significant participant, as Ben Stiller is a technically able comic who shows little ability to firmly inhabit a role; on the surface, his work seems solid, but he simply rarely makes me laugh.

However, he had the good sense to surround himself with people who are very funny. Because of that, Zoolander works in fits and starts.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Zoolander appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though the image didn’t leap off the screen, it seemed positive.

Overall sharpness worked well. A few interiors could be a smidgen soft, but not to a notable degree, so the majority of the film provided solid delineation. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and I also detected no evidence of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I noticed no specks, marks or other concerns.

Colors nicely bright and vibrant. Zoolander went with a peppy palette, and the tones came across as accurate and vivid. Black levels seemed deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately thick but not excessively opaque. This ended up as a pleasing presentation.

I also felt happy with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Zoolander. As with most comedies, the film’s soundfield stayed fairly heavily oriented toward the front channels, where it presented fine presence and stereo imaging. Music seemed to spread broadly across the speakers, while effects were appropriately localized and they blended together neatly.

The surrounds usually offered general reinforcement of the front audio, but they kicked in with some unique material at times. For example, the “Relax” hypnotism sequence used the rears nicely, and a few other sequences contributed good activity. Overall, the soundfield appeared unspectacular, but it worked fine for this sort of material.

Audio quality was more than acceptable. Dialogue seemed reasonably natural and distinct, and I heard no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Music was nicely bright and vibrant. Both songs and score showed fine range and clarity, and they contributed some terrific low-end elements at times.

Effects also came across as clean and accurate. They seemed well reproduced and kicked in good bass when appropriate, such as during an explosion. Zoolander offered a consistently fine soundtrack.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio was fairly similar, though the Blu-ray’s lossless mix added a little range and warmth. As for the visuals, the Blu-ray boasted broader colors, increased definition and a cleaner print. The Blu-ray acted as a good improvement.

The Blu-ray mostly replicates the DVD’s extras. First up is an audio commentary from actor/writer/director Ben Stiller plus fellow screenwriters Drake Sather and John Hamburg. All three were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece. Overall, the commentary offers a breezy and compelling look at the film.

Not surprisingly, Stiller dominates the track, though he doesn’t do so in a forced or egotistical way. He wore so many hats on the film that it’s inevitable we’ll hear his voice more than the others.

Sather and Hamburg contribute some good material, but this remains Stiller’s commentary to make or break, and he handles it well. He and the others discuss a myriad of elements about the movie, from its origins to casting to story and script changes to locations to a number of other bits. Very few empty spaces appear, and the three men keep the tone light and engaging across the board. They provide a solid commentary that seems enjoyable and educational.

After this we discover five Deleted Scenes and five Extended Scenes. The deleted scenes run between 23 seconds and four minutes, 41 seconds for a total of seven minutes, 46 seconds of footage. The extended scenes last between 34 seconds and two minutes, five seconds for a total of eight minutes of material. All 10 snippets can be viewed with or without commentary from Stiller.

I think the various clips are pretty interesting. Actually, many of them are quite good, and a few of them should have made the final cut. As for Stiller’s remarks, he doesn’t always tell us why the material was removed from the film – which is the basic mission of deleted scenes commentaries – but he usually provides that info, and he also adds some good statements about the shots.

Many more video-based extras appear here. Next we locate six minutes, 34 seconds of Outtakes. Most of these consist of the usual flubbed lines and laughing, but they also include a few more interesting moments. Most of those came from a variety of unused ad-libs offered by Will Ferrell, and those make the segments more entertaining than normal.

As noted in my review, the Zoolander character first emerged during some VH1 Fashion Awards Skits. The disc includes both the 1996 edition (two minutes, 48 seconds) and the 1997 take (three minutes, 54 seconds). While not any funnier than Stiller’s material in the movie, these are cool to see since they show the earliest incarnation of the Zoolander part. I’m happy to find them on the disc.

Breakdance Fight Researsal runs four minutes, 29 seconds and offers what it describes. We see video footage of the choreography for this climactic sequence. The reel adds a fun look behind the scenes.

In the Photo Galleries section we find three subsections. It includes “Derek’s Portfolio” (eight shots), “Hansel’s Portfolio” (12 images), and “Zoolander Production Stills” (19 snaps). The two portfolios are fun to see since they give us clearer views of material from the film. The production shots feel more ordinary.

Zoolander includes a music video for the Wiseguys’ “Start the Commotion”. This clip uses the standard mix of shots from the film intercut with lip-synch images of the band. Actually, the latter elements seem more clever than usual, as they feature the performers in outfits that emulate various performers, but it remains a pretty ordinary video.

Tons of short pieces show up in the Promo Spots domain. “PSAs” offers six phony public service announcements from Zoolander; they fill a total of two minutes, one second. “MTV Cribs” gives us three 30-second bits, while “Interstitials” contributes an additional six clips, each of which lasts between 20 and 30 seconds. All of these are fairly similar promotional pieces that usually show Derek as he spouts inanities. They get a little redundant after a while, but they still offer amusing material.

In addition to a teaser for Zoolander 2, we find an Easter Egg. If you click left from “Breakdance Fight Rehearsal” in “Zoolander’s Closet”, you’ll highlight a “Z”. Press “enter” to see a two-minute, 49-second reel that shows rehearsals for the “walk-off” scene. Along with narration from Stiller, it becomes a fun extra.

While Zoolander has enough entertaining material to warrant a look, it suffers from the blandness of its star. When the lead actor is the worst thing about a movie, that becomes a trap from which it can’t escape. The Blu-ray provides generally solid picture and audio along with an often enjoyable set of supplements. Zoolander ends up as a spotty comedy.

Release note: starting December 1, 2015, the Zoolander Blu-ray will be a Wal-Mart exclusive for two months. The Blu-ray will hit other outlets February 2, 2016.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of ZOOLANDER

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main