Thursday, February 16, 2006


I am five years late. Just as I was so prepared to watch a Ben Stiller caper, with the posters all up at local theatres, the movie disappeared from the radar, and was banned in Singapore. Why? Because the plot was about a fashion model being brainwashed ala The Manchurian Candidate to assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister.

Why? Because Malaysia was being used as a sweatshop that hires child labour to manufacture cheap garments created by the western fashion houses, and they are not happy that the PM has outlawed working children. Hence the insane sounding plot right in the beginning. However, someone forgot to tell Ben that the Malaysian footage didn't look like Malaysia, but more like Tiananmen Square. Where got wave banners like that? Got space meh? But since we're friendly neighbours of Malaysia, when they banned it, we banned it too, to show solidarity.

Anyway, for refusing to watch illegal downloaded copies, I was finally rewarded when GV decided to screen it here (no more ban? why now?) for a limited period, even though I suspect since it's a Village Roadshow production, why let it collect dust in the archives?

Ben Stiller co-created and plays Derek Zoolander, male model of the year 3 times in a row, with that killer Blue Steel look - an anal retentive look which actually seduces and is popular with the crowd. As most would already know, this comedy parodies almost everything about the fashion industry, like how himbotic male models can be, and amplified that dumbness more than 100%. Zoolander loses his crown to up and coming male model Hansel (played by Owen Wilson with long flowing locks, surfer dude style), and decides to retire.

But since the chief villain and fashion guru Mugatu (Will Ferrell) requires a dim-witted model to be his assassin (they have buff muscular bodies, and listen to instructions), his assistant Katinka (Milla Jovovich, yummy) brings Zoolander to a secret day spa to be brainwashed, and ready to be a killing machine during the opening of the Derelicte line of clothes.

Real life Mrs Stiller Christine Taylor plays Matilda, a nosy journalist who tails Zoolander to try and get to Mugatu, and gets entangled in the assassination plot. But don't worry, the storyline isn't as complex as I've described. It's filled with plenty of insane subplots and scenes, like Zoolander's retirement decision to join his dad and brother (Jon Voight, and an uncredited Vince Vaughn, who doesn't speak a word), an orgy of sorts with dwarfs, and even a walk-off competition between Zoolander and Hansel, with closure that comes straight out of Stephen Chow's campy movies.

The real scream actually comes from the dozens of cameo appearances of the who's-who in the fashion and entertainment industry. Just as a flavour, there's Karl Lagerfield, Donald Trump, Tom Ford, Natalie Portman (who declares her love for Zoolander), Winona Ryder (who tries to seduce Zoolander), Gwen Stefani, Heidi Klum, Fabio, Fred Durst, Paris Hilton (!), Victoria Beckham, and even Billy Zane. You can refer to IMDb to get the entire list of credited and uncredited appearances. But what's the icing on the cake is David Duchovny's role as an X-File-ish character straight from his Fox Mulder days. Simply brought back the memories, in a funny way, including the many 80s and 90s pop music injected into the movie.

So for those who have held out to finally experience Zoolander's new Magnum look, this is your chance. The movie might be dated, but it sure doesn't feel that way. Great fun.

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