review for Zoolander on AllMovie

Zoolander (2001)
by Perry Seibert review

Reality Bites, an attempt to summarize a generation, and The Cable Guy, which attempted to make a grand statement about the dangers of television, were uneven films that displayed a talented filmmaker whose reach exceeded his grasp. Zoolander finds director Ben Stiller poking fun at the world of fashion models. While it is fair to argue that so simple a target should be child's play for a talented comedian, Stiller finds just enough variations on the vapid, shallow people that populate this world to keep things running smoothly for the film's running time. His ace in the hole is Owen Wilson. Wilson's performance as Zoolander's archrival Hansel (who looks like Roger Daltrey wishes he looked in Tommy) manages to be just enough like Zoolander to show that they are birds of a feather, but different enough to show the variations on the comedic elements that make up these two characters. Stiller and Wilson successfully find different ways to use their voices to humorously express the stupidity of the characters, while simultaneously mining the physical comedy that results from mocking the preening posture and movements of male models to add to the comedy. Their ten-minute "walk-off" (the fashion world equivalent of the rumble in West Side Story) is as funny as anything else Stiller or Wilson has done. Stiller has finally found, in the superficial world of famous beautiful people, a subject he knows well enough to satirize completely, pointedly, and even a tad lovingly.