A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zoolander is a broad, spoofy comedy with plenty of mature content. There's an orgy between the three main characters (played by Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Christine Taylor) and a few other folks that includes brief glimpses of skin, though nothing explicit. One main character talks about having an eating disorder, and others respond as if that's a good thing. There's talk of drug use, and characters get really drunk before the orgy scene. Though it's played for laughs, the main characters are threatened with death several times -- and in an early scene, a few supporting characters are killed abruptly. Language includes "s--t," "d--k," and one "f--k."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When the new Malaysian prime minister promises to raise the minimum wage for his country's workers, cabals of fashion industry insiders know there's only one choice: Kill the prime minister -- and use a male model to do it. "We need a beautiful, self-absorbed simpleton who can be manipulated and molded, like Jell-o," intones a woman veiled by shadow. Enter Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), a veteran male model who names his looks (Blue Steel, Le Tigre, etc.) but manages to look the same doing all of them, and who always wanted to make a living "being really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking." When he loses a prestigious fashion award to up-and-comer Hansel (Owen Wilson) and his three best model friends die after having a gasoline fight (don't ask), Derek quits modeling, only to come back to international espionage, an orgy, and a date with destiny.
Is it any good?
ZOOLANDER delights with silly jokes that you can't help but giggle at, and teens will finds lots to enjoy. If you think it sounds dumb, it is. But it's a good dumb, like Austin Powers: Man of Mystery or Dodgeball. Watch it for the scene where Derek and Hansel do street battle, male model-style, with a runway.
There's also some inspired casting: David Duchovny as a conspiracy-theory devotee and long-time hand model, and Will Ferrell as the ridiculous villain Mugatu, the designer of the Derelicte look. There are pop cultural references galore and cameos by everyone from Paris Hilton to Donatella Versace to David Bowie. Many of the references are to '80s pop culture and may fly over the head of teens. There are also lots of product placements. But in the end, just sit back and watch the pretty people act stupid, and you'll have a great time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of Zoolander's more serious themes, like bulimia, literacy, and sweatshop labor. Do you like seeing serious subjects brought up in silly movies? How does that affect their impact?
What do you think the movie is saying about models and how our culture treats them? Are any of the characters intended to be role models?
Who's the intended audience of this movie? Why do so many people love silly comedies? Why do different types of humor appeal to different people?
- In theaters: February 2, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: March 12, 2002
- Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Christine Taylor
- Director: Ben Stiller
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual situations, comic violence
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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