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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Additional footage
  • 5 Deleted scenes
  • Audio commentary - Director, producer, star, writer Ben Stiller plus writers Drake Sather and John Hamburg
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Music video - Start the Commotion - The Wiseguys
  • Interviews
  • Outtakes

Zoolander

Paramount/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 85 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is a simple man. In fact he’s so simple that a rice cracker seems positively deep and complex in comparison – I mean Tim Tams are Einstein-like geniuses compared to this guy. Still, he’s a supermodel, in fact he’s been the Male Model of the Year three years running, so who needs all those neuron thingies clogging up your head and making it all swelly, bulgy and ugly anyway?

So how did he become so successful? Well, being so really, really, ridiculously good looking certainly helped, not to mention his secret weapon, ‘Blue Steel’, which is the ‘look’ that gained him spots in the campaigns of most every fashion magnate. Well, all except for the most magnatious of magnates that is, Mogatu (Will Ferrell, who shall NEVER be forgiven in these quarters for A Night at the Roxbury). It’s time for the VH1 Fashion Awards once more, and Derek is up for his fourth straight gong, however this time he has the new face on the block to contend with, the rather blonde, rather surfie dude-like Hansel (Owen Wilson). When this young upstart wrests his title from him and his three model loftmates suffer a somewhat grisly and diet cola advertisement-styled death, Derek’s world falls apart and he starts to question (to the best of his abilities at least) whether there’s more to life than simply being so dazzlingly gorgeous. He announces his retirement, and sets out on a journey to discover his roots (and we’re not talking about hair here).

Zoolander’s retirement is short lived, however, when news comes from his agent (Stiller’s father, Jerry) that Mogatu wants his face to helm his new campaign – the ‘Derelicte’ range (no prizes for guessing the inspiration). But things take a sinister twist when it comes to light that it’s all a plan to assassinate the new Claymation, erm Malaysian, Prime Minister, a man who is intent on shutting down the clothing sweatshops in his country – and thus causing major headaches for designers worldwide. Naturally this is all way too deep for Derek to have fathomed all on his little lonesome, but with the help of an ‘investigatory journalist’ from Time Magazine, Matilda (Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor), a rather spooky former hand model and a somewhat more unlikely ally (ah, is there a sweeter sight in the world than two male models bonding? Umm, yes, probably), much comes to light about the fashion industry’s involvement in the history of world politics.

Will Derek be brainwashed? Does he even have a brain to wash? Will he win the ‘walk-off’ against his rival, Hansel? Will he get to scratch his humanitarian itch and open the ‘Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good’? For serious, will I ever stop asking all these brain-busting questions?

"When I was in the seventh grade, I was the fat kid in class. After a while I became... bulimic"
"You could read minds?"

Stiller takes on an awful lot, directing, producing, co-writing and starring in Zoolander, which evolved from a couple of sketches he created for the VH1 Fashion Awards telecast, starting back in 1996. What results is one of those comedies that will have audiences divided, although it’s safe to say that if you were the type to dig either of the Austin Powers films, or the criminally underrated Josie and the Pussycats, then you’ll click with Zoolander. While the International Man of Mystery had a wealth of material to plunder with the spy film genre, and Josie had the entire music industry and all that it entails to play with, it could be argued that the fashion industry doesn’t offer an awful lot to extract le weewee from, however Stiller does a good job at keeping up the pace, and importantly the laughs, in a film which at around 80 minutes wisely doesn’t outstay its welcome.

There are some fun performances that really get Zoolander safely across the finishing line. While Stiller’s character is understandably one dimensional (in fact that’s a stretch) by design, he is surrounded by some fabulous actors who pep things up considerably. His penchant for nepotism pays off, with both his father and wife helping things considerably, and even Milla Jovovich adds some spark with her rather silly Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle-like performance as an evil henchwoman under Mogatu’s employ. Speaking of Mogatu, as some may have gathered a certain bias towards Will Ferrell exists within me, so I won’t comment further about his performance. These alone wouldn’t be enough, but the veritable cavalcade of cameo appearances that is added to the mixture adds no end of further life to proceedings. From the actor side of things luminaries such as Winona Ryder, Jon Voight, Vince Vaughn, Christian Slater, Billy Zane and David Duchovny pop up; musicians ranging from Gwen Stefani and Fred Durst to heavyweights such as Lenny Kravitz and David Bowie show their faces, and naturally being a fashion world-based affair, all manner of the ‘beautiful’ set are seen ranging from Karl Lagerfeld to Claudia Schiffer, Veronica Webb, Heidi Klum and even Fabio (ICK!).

  Video
Contract

Earth to Roadshow – you do make it kind of hard to write about video quality when your movie transfers are regularly so darned good looking. This 2.35:1 anamorphic presentation is no exception, with only a few small outbreaks of aliasing and literally two or three mineeskoo... meenyschul... umm, little speckles being enough to keep things from being as perfectly pretty as the most superest of supermodels. Reading (that thing models don’t do) between the lines, this should tell you that colour (and ooh boy are there some gloriously vibrant, almost cartoon-like examples on display), black levels, shadow detail, general clarity blahblahblah is all quite fabulous, making Zoolander an absolute treat to take in visually. The layer change is also placed well, occurring between scene transitions in a spot that is essentially quiet.

  Audio
Contract

Zoolander comes accompanied by a rather sexy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix hanging off its arm. Despite this being a comedy, that kind of beastie that generally doesn’t give much call for the subwoofwoof, the little box with the big boomy voice gets quite a bit to do throughout, both in so far as adding to effects and padding out the soundtrack. Surround action too is pleasing, with them utilised almost constantly throughout without being excessive, and some great separation effects bounce about the front sound stage. Dialogue remains clear at all times, and all is synched up incredibly nicely thankyouverymuch.

The name David Arnold should be familiar to those James Bond fans out there, and he is the gentleman who shakes (not stirs) Zoolander’s soundtrack into life, ably accompanied by a massive array of pop songs from over the years. The tunes selected range in age from the ‘60s to pretty much now, including everything from the likes of The Hollies to Wham!, Michael Jackson, Loverboy (they were overdue for an inevitable comeback) and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, with their Relax taking a somewhat pivotal role. That track also features in an updated form that involves local boy done good Josh Abrahams, and other modern day people such as ska-popsters No Doubt and doofmeisters Crystal Method get guernseys too – plus the inevitable BT, who seems to pop up on so many soundtracks nowadays that I’m surprised they haven’t re-released The Sound of Music with him at the decks...

  Extras
Contract

So often we mention menus simply as they have a bit of music sticky-taped onto them, or because they contain a little bit of animation. Pah! Losers! Not since This is Spinal Tap has such an impressive menu come the way of this petite and remarkably gorgeous (honest!) reviewer. Not content with simply copying a sizeable chunk of the movie and pasting it to the disc as a menu, Zoolander’s somewhat trippy one has a special menu commentary from Derek himself, explaining (often hilariously) just what each option does to the best of his limited mental capabilities. This continues into the eyebrows, erm special features, section, and is the sort of thing that we’d love to see more of. Cool! Anyway, 10/10 so far, what else is on offer to make us drool (even if it isn’t the most becoming physical function – never mind, we’ll get our assistant to wipe it up)?

Audio Commentary – Director, Producer, Star, Writer Ben Stiller plus writers Drake Sather and John Hamburg: Obviously not one to shirk (like isn’t that one of those fish with really big teeth?) responsibility, Stiller understandably takes the helm of this commentary (after all it wouldn’t be surprising to discover that he also provided the catering), with his two cohorts still managing to pipe up with some interesting information. Less technical than many such tracks, in favour of an appropriately more fun and light hearted approach to things, such fare as the birth of the idea, character info, deletions, locations, cameos, general trivia and even controversy (the Malaysian bit didn’t go down so well in some quarters) are covered in what is a very entertaining diversion.

Deleted Scenes: Five sections that were cruelly kept from their time in the spotlight, totalling around eight minutes in all, and each with a commentary from Ben Stiller that you can opt for if desired. These include a couple of VH1 interviews (Donatella Versace and Moby got cruelly chopped), more of Hansel and Winona Ryder, the curiously entitled “Moomba” (Zig and Zag are nowhere to be seen, let alone any floats or birdmen!) and a brief section with one David Duchovny being exceedingly creepy. Or perhaps that should be spooky?

Extended Scenes: Like, you need an explanation? Oh, well OK – there are five sections, adding up to around eight minutes in all and padding out such scenes as the opening interview with Derek, and the “earth to’ sequence. There’s also a minor subplot involving Matilda and her assistant Archie which was excised entirely from the finished flick (a hairstyle which is on its way out again by the way – curls are the new flicks!)

Outtakes: A 6:36 collection presented in a variety of aspect ratios (all with optional commentaries by Ben Stiller), including some really funny flubs and adlibs, plus some at times rather worrying grabs of Will Ferrell pretending to be a child that thankfully weren’t used in the film.

VH1 Fashion Awards Skits: The two skits that pretty much started it all for Derek Zoolander – one from 1996 (2:46) and another from 1997 (3:55).

More: Oh, like this just offers some more extra features, you know? Mucho existential...

Music Video - Start the Commotion – The Wiseguys: Yep, no matter which way you approach it, this is definitely a music video. It just so happens to be 2:46 long, has standard stereo audio and kind of features moving pictures accompanied by a fairly groovy song.

Promotional Spots: This contains three sections – Public Service Announcements, MTV “Cribs” and Interstitials (a rather cool word that isn’t used nearly enough – interstitials, interstitials, interstitials!). The first has six snippets of around 30 seconds each, with Derek sharing his views on such important issues as racism, globalisation, literacy and world hunger. The second offers up three quick grabs from MTV’s spotlight on the homes of the stars, whilst the latter, rather funkily titled, section gives us six different chances to check out some interviews with Ben Stiller and Derek (at the same time, ooh, technology!), Matilda and Mogatu.

Photo Galleries: Make your way in here for three separate galleries – Derek’s portfolio (eight shots), Hansel’s portfolio (12 shots) and some production stills (19 shots).

Alternate End Title Sequence: As its name suggests, this is a different set of end credits (in anamorphic 2.35:1, but only with stereo sound), providing a more visual alternative accompanied by the doofed-up version of Relax.

Back: Now come on silly, even I know this means the bit of you that’s hard to see in the mirror, but nonetheless is ever so sexy and smooth.

Easter Egg: Continuing the fun vibe of the menu, this kind of hidden (the menu’s soundtrack gives a clue to its existence) 2:46 full frame morsel offers up a specially prepared DVD bonus showing some rehearsal footage, complete with a commentary from Mr Stiller Junior. If you lack either the adventurous spirit or the brain cells (I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome our model readers – oh hang on, that doesn’t work – you don’t read, do you?) to go hunting for it yourself, you can check out our googy egg section to discover how to find it.

  Overall  
Contract

With really, really good looking video, really, really good looki... umm, sounding audio and a really, really good selection of extra features, Zoolander is, well, a really, really good DVD release. Oh, the film? If you’re into this type of silly comedy then this tale of one beautiful self absorbed simpleton will make you laugh, make you cry and make you hur... oops... umm, look, it’s just really, really good fun, OK? For serious!


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      And I quote...
    "A really, really good looking disc. For serious..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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