By John Campbell
You don’t often get to say it, but Derek Zoolander is back in a sequel that is better than the original – not that the original was anything to write home about. All that I can properly remember about it is that I didn’t think it was very funny. This time around, maybe because my expectations were so low, I laughed a lot – sometimes out loud. Then again, the world is a different place, too. Since Derek, the fab fashion model, first appeared in 2001, humanity seems to have set its course irrevocably to damnation and this type of brash, loud, gonzo satire is all we have left to counter the mounting gloom. After the death of his wife, Derek (Ben Stiller) retired to the wilderness of upper New Jersey to live the life of a hermit. Meanwhile, former rival Hansel (Owen Wilson) has been on a quest to find the father he has never known. They are drawn from obscurity to help solve the riddle of who is responsible for a spree of celebrity assassinations – the opening sequence has Justin Bieber (as himself) being gunned down in Rome by a masked assailant. The job gets personal for Derek when danger threatens the son he had previously abandoned to a swish boarding school – where, OMG!, he got fat. None of the jokes slip by unnoticed – to the contrary, they are of the in-your-face variety that virtually demands an amused response. A succession of ‘spot the star’ cameos follow, as the likes of John Malkovich, Susan Sarandon and Willie Nelson get to deliver nifty one-liners. Will Ferrell, in typical overdrive, is the villain, Penélope Cruz’s spectacular cleavage leads to an hilarious sight gag concerning Derek and Hansel’s reaction to it, and, Benedict Cumberbatch, clearly enjoying himself, weirds out everybody as the androgynous All. Of course it’s silly, but more than a few of its sometimes self-inflicted barbs hit their mark and the climax, featuring a gathering of fashionistas – Anna Wintour, Tommy Hilfiger, Valentino – is a macabre ritual of sublime ratbaggery.