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Review: Zoolander 292

Posted by JonKatz
from the hilarious-assault-on-pop-culture dept.
Zoolander is just the ticket for people who want or need to move on with their lives and get back to the movies. I really love this movie. Ben Stiller has directed a hilarious rip on the American fashion industry, the manipulative nature of pop culture, social trendiness and narcissism. This movie is just what the doctor ordered this week, though the computer-altered New York City skyline (the Twin Towers are gone -- replaced by odd-looking new skyscrapers in several shots looking South) is a bit chilling. We all love pop culture, Stiller seems to be suggesting, but is it also turning us into vapid children?

In the theater where I saw this movie, the audience was laughing throughout. It's not entirely clear how much of this was the quality of the movie, how much that people obviously needed to laugh.

The premise is great. An evil band of international fashion designers want to kill the prime minister of Malaysia after he announces he's raising the minimum wage of sweatshop workers who make designer clothes for Americans. Apparel prices will skyrocket. They threaten top designer Mugatu (Will Ferrell) with destruction if he doesn't find some vapid, gullible male model to do the deed at the annual fashion show, which the prime minister plans to attend.

"Fabio?" suggests one of the villains? "Too smart," is the decision. The obvious choice for Mugatu is famous, shallow, supermodel Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), the four-time Male Model of the Year winner, soon to be embittered and unseated by arch-rival Hansel, played brilliantly by Owen Wilson. Female supermodels have long been the target of satirists, but this is the most head-on assault yet on the men.

Zoolander is likeable, stupid, self-absorbed, and manipulable. He gets absolutely nothing about the world beyond the fact that he is "wonderfully, incredibly good-looking." He has his verbal mannerisms. He's about to get an education in how the world really works. He and Hansel vie for top male model spot, including a hilarious "walk-off" on a basement runway to decide who's on top. Neither has ever turned on a computer.

Zoolander comes from a character Stiller helped create for a sketch he did on the l996 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards. If any event or industry is ripe for vicious parody, it's this one. Stiller is merciless. There's a terrific scene up front involving Stiller's gorgeous but bubble-headed roommates playing at a gas station in the style of stupid TV ads. They get their just desserts here, though the movie is as good-natured as it is biting.

Derek's agent, Maury Ballstein, is played by Jerry Stiller, Ben's dad, who is great as the crude, pompadoured head of the world's biggest modeling agency.

There are targets, spoofs and cultural references galore in Zoolander, including a play on The Manchurian Candidate spot-on blasts at the way the media worships the glam/celebrity culture, and the way in which pop culture can sometimes patronize the people who worship it. David Duchovny does an uncredited walk-on as a conspiratorial ex-model whose face is never shown, but whose hand -- used in cosmetic ads -- is instantly recognizable to Zoolander from catalogs.

American culture, one of the most powerful forces on the planet, is the big target here, especially its consuming valuelessness. Stiller grasps the cultural irony for many of us. As much as we love pop culture, we also recognize that it is becoming sillier, greedier and less honest and creative by the day. It diminishes us, he suggests, as well as the people who create it. Stiller sees popular culture as corrupt and infanticizing, celebrating trendiness above all. In worshipping the empty and the vapid, he seems to be saying, we can't help but become more empty and vapid ourselves. He's got a point.

This movie is wonderfully weird and funny. Ferrell's over-the-top Mogatu is great, as are the Finnish dwarfs and freakazoid orgy. The movie has a score of cameo appearances from fashion world muck-a-mucks, models and celebrities, but the modeling culture is only a stand-in for the celebrity machine that has engulfed publishing, music, TV, film and the arts.

This is a scathingly wonderful movie, as amusing as it is on target.

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Review: Zoolander

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  • by nilstar (412094) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @11:32AM (#2370340) Homepage
    I wonder if many other movies will be digitally removing (or in the case of current films be adding) the WTC buildings in the NYC skyline? Anyone know of such movies?
    • I wonder if many other movies will be digitally removing (or in the case of current films be adding) the WTC buildings in the NYC skyline?

      "Don't Say A Word" has a shot of the skyline that includes the WTC towers on the far left. They're not prominent, though.

      The funny thing is that it's explicitly supposed to take place on Thanksgiving, 2001.

    • by dsanfte (443781) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @11:49AM (#2370389) Journal
      What I'd like to know is, why are they editing the WTC towers out in the first place? Are they now going to go through geography or tourism books and retroactively edit out the towers from them, too?

      Where does it end? It's editorial abuse. I find it a perversion of the 9/11 incident, and the people who died there, that someone thinks that all photographic memory in pop media should be wiped of any trace of its former existence. And what excuse do they offer up for doing it?

      "It might hurt someone's feelings."

      What a cop-out.

      • You mean any pictures of the WTC where they aren't blowing up or already blown up, right? Because right now, you can flip to pretty much any news channel, and see what the WTC looks like destroyed. And if you wait long enough, they'll replay the planes crashing, for dramatic effect or whatever..

        Personally, I think it's all propoganda. The media feel that it's their responsibilty to make sure that when the public thinks of the WTC, they only think of it as being blown up. There seems to be a need in today's media to reinforce fact in everybody's mind. (Maybe they think we're all stupid and we'll forget..?) They want us so we won't forget, and so that they'll be in full support of whatever the president decides.

        Now I'm not saying this is a gov't conspiracy. Far from it; I think the media honestly believes that this is their responsibility. They feel that they should be doing everything in their power to make sure that their viewers feel the devestation just as strongly as their reporters did. Which I don't think is a bad thing, if you're only giving a special report. But whenever you have continuing coverage for more than.. oh.. say.. two weeks? That's when you get into brainwashing territory.

        I noticed something equally disturbing in the first few days, however, and that was how the media was already taking it upon itself to question the usefulness of the country's intelligence bureaus. This is not the job of the media--especially in a time of crisis. The job of the media is to report the news, not make suppositions about it. It should be a watchdog group who's doing that kind of report, and presenting it to the media for reporting to the public. Having the media making such observations and suggestions on their own is completely unprofessional.

        The problem is that it's not the gov't that runs the country in cases like this; it's national opinion. The gov't doesn't actually make decisions on foreign policy; they follow the lead of the american populace. And when they want to find out the national opinion, who do they turn to? CNN.

        So allow me to put this into perspective for you; when the gov't wants our opinion, they watch CNN. Whenever we want to find out what our leaders are doing, we turn to CNN, fox, etc. So who's really running the country?

        And people wonder about buildings being removed from movies.. here's a question for you; who owns CNN? AOL Time Warner. And what do they own? Warner Bros., New Line Cinema..

        Wait, sorry, that is a conspiracy theory.. oh, never mind...
      • Why is this flamebait? This is a valid point.

        I feel sickened that people are trying to avoid the "hurt feelings." Pictures of the WTC shoudl be reminders of what happened, and while it may hurt some peoples' feelings, it may help others remember the event a little more clearly -- which is what we need to do.

        Can't allow ourselves to forget that it happened.

        ~ravyn

      • In their defense, I would like to think that Hollywood is doing it to new movies simply to keep them from seeming dated upon release.

        If they start doing it to older movies, I'll be somewhat angry. That's a little bit too 1984 for me.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I do not agree with editing out the towers. I think each individual american should have the choice to close his eyes during a scene where the towers are in view. Perhaps a few seconds before a scene where the towers are in view a voice could tell you that the next scene contains WTC towers and all viewers who are sensitive to such images should now avert their eyes.
    • They've already done it for the Spider-Man trailer.
      • this is not funny - it's true. there was a scene in the Spiderman movie where Spidey generates a web netting between the WTC and catches a villain helicopter. I know that there was a bit of story line rework to be done, considering the semi-large role the WTC played
    • They're editing out the WTC I assume so we wont be reminded of the disaster? As if we're going to forget anyway.

      If they leave the towers in, people will be reminded of the attacks. If they edit the towers out, people will say "look, they edited the towers out!: .... and then be reminded of the attacks.

      I say leave them in. That's what it looked like when it was being filmed.
      • I don't know. I see your point, but the fact is that the towers are not there anymore. It seems like it would be anachronistic for any movie that wasn't spefically set in pre-9/11/01 NY to show them, an anachronism that would draw way too much attention to itself at the expense of the rest of the movie. (Note: I haven't seen Zoolander, so I don't know if it specifically places itself in pre-9/11 time. I just assume that it is implied to be present day.)
    • I watched Babe 2: Pig In The City last night. The City is a wonderful collection of all famous landmarks - Eiffel Tower, GOlden Gate Bridge, Sydney Opera House, etc. Of course, the Twin Towers were there.

      I don't see a reason why they should be removed from current films, either. It seems to be some sort of denial, as if the Towers never existed and nothing bad happened to the people who were in them. The footage of the Towers may bring back some bad memories, but there are other things to concentrate on in the movie than which buildings appear in the landscape.
    • With the upcoming Spiderman movie they removed the first trailer entirely due to it prominently featuring the twin WTC towers (the ending shot of the trailer had a helicoptor trapped in a gigentic web between them). All shots and even references of the twin WTC towers are being removed from the final movie entirely.
      You can check some archived news here: http://www.darkhorizons.com/news10/01indx3.htm for more details on some of the many productions effected.
      This really sort of annoys me personally, as it reminds me of the term "revisionist history". Sure it isn't completely the same thing, but pretending something never existed because something extrememly bad happened to it seems rather absurd.
    • Super Mario Brothers has the towers, and shows them derezing into another dimension. (It was on TV last night.)
    • if they are set post 9/11/01 or are just set up for you to assume "today" I think it is a good Idea to remove them. It makes the movie more realalistic and up-to date. Vice vera for a movie set in a time between when they were built and 9/11 maybe they should be removed.

      The point is the WTC/twin towers are an important piece of history. The symbolized so much before they were destroyed, and they symbolize so much more now that they are gone. I think we should be as reallalistic as possible out of respect for what the towers were/are. Maybe this is more of a long time view, because current logic is affected by the closeness of the event, and the emostional impact it may have.

      I just think the movie people should keep things the way they are in real life. which is that before 9/11/01 the towers were there, and after 9/11/01 the towers wheren't.
    • Not just movies; I think there's a couple of computer games they're changing too. Red Alert(?) and the latest Microsoft Flight Simulator maps.
  • I really wish (Score:3, Redundant)

    by cetan (61150) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @11:33AM (#2370343) Journal
    I really wish I had known this from Katz last night:

    I really love this movie

    Because then I would have known to not go. As it stands, I went and suffered.

    • Re:I really wish (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dsanfte (443781)
      I really wish I had known you'd post a reply to this article.

      Because then I would have known not to read the comments. As it stands, I read and suffered yet another Katz bashing.

      Is that cool to do these days? Do you get a cheque in the mail every time you rag on Katz for posting to Slashdot, with no other reason than because he's Jon Katz?

      Please stop, because it's really getting tiresome.
    • yeah well I knew that one would be bad so instead I went to see The Musketeer and suffered more horribly than those stabbed in the movie.

      The premise of the movie was fine (young man, wants to revenge father's death) yet the rest sucked. The acting was pretty bad and the dialogue was worse.

      There were two saving graces. Humor -- I don't know if it was intended in all the places it came up (the exhausted horse that he said he would come back for like he was leaving his love) and Heather Grahmn PG-13 nude in the bath-tub ;)

      I suggest finding another movie to see this weekend or waiting for Johnny Depp in From Hell :)
      • RIOT (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Stoutlimb (143245)
        When I went to see The Musketeer, not only did it suck, but the projector broke twice. Whe had angry drunk guys storming up and down the aisles screaming at the projectionist. By the end of the show, everyone booed. Upon leaving the theatre, there were employees standing around frantically handing out free tickets to everyone they could see, in order to prevent a riot. If it weren't for them, I'm sure someone would have gotten hurt.

        The moral: Don't go see the Musketeer.
    • Didn't you realise it had Ben Stiller in it?
      If women find him sexy, I think it speaks very badly of them. I thought it was only us guys who were stupid enough to go for women who act lobotomized and are dishonest in every role they're ever cast in because they are trying so hard to be "nice".
    • redundant? hahaha. Now there's some moronic moderating going on. How funny.
  • I saw the movie on Friday (opening night) and I couldn't stop laughing.

    "Anyone could die in a freak gasoline fight accident!"
  • That's why Katz loves it.
  • Are you okay Jon? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday September 30, 2001 @11:42AM (#2370370)
    Jon, do you see the irony in Ben Stiller, son of Jerry Stiller, a hollywood elite criticizing American pop-culture?

    I am profoundly tired of being told how nasty and stupid and evil the "American culture" is by the elite of that culture. Many of these Hollywood types just love going around telling us and showing us how bad we are, how bad are culture is, and why they know better than us what is wrong with America.

    Jon, your critique that "He's got a point" and that he rails against the "vapid" and destitute culture of us Americans misses the entire *actual* point: Ben Stiller, who wrote, directed and stared in this film is as much a part of the general stank of American culture as you are.

    The rich and powerful of Hollywood love to tell us all about how we are being abused, how we are trading our culture in for cheap thrills and bad art, how we are losing sight of ourselves. They give themselves pats on the back and awards several times a year. They wear all the right ribbons and give to all the right causes - yet when it gets right down to it, and it always does come down to it, its all about the money.

    Congratulations Jon, you have been duped yet again. Ben Stiller now has your $8, and in return you have yet another Hollywood bozo telling you what brazen, self-centered, moron you are.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      Are you okay?

      Where are the deep messages against pop culture in this funny yet completely brainless movie? Complain about the industry all you want, but if you bothered to see this you'll see Jon is seeing what he wants to see and he's got you hook, line, and sinker.

      Of all the comedy actors out there I'd rather give my 5 bucks up to Ben. If you ever saw his old TV show or his role in Heavyweights you'll know exactly why.
    • "... who wrote, directed and stared in this film..."

      A clever misspelling of starred?
  • WTC in Movies (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Cliffm (44720)
    I just saw DoubleTake on DVD last night, and the opening scene showed the WTC. It really made me feel weird seeing it.

    Cliff
    • Hell, for some reason my friends rented "Die Hard" and "Die Hard with a Vengence" last week.... You think DoubleTake's bad?

      There's just something about watching the main terrorist fall from the roof of the hijacked skyscraper from the point of view of the ground (VERY similar to shots we saw from NYC) or even worse, an explosion on Wall Street, covering everyone in a thick cloud of dust that snaps you out of the "escapist movie" mode and blankets everyone with an uneasy silence....

      -Frobozz
    • Re:WTC in Movies (Score:1, Redundant)

      by ckd (72611)
      I just saw DoubleTake on DVD last night, and the opening scene showed the WTC. It really made me feel weird seeing it.

      You really want weird? I was cleaning out some old Pop-Up Video episodes on the TiVo, and as I fast-forwarded through some commercials I saw a Jeep commercial, which was riffing on the "there's only one {Amazon, jungle, etc, ..., Jeep}" theme. For "jungle" they had the NYC skyline as it then was.

      And right after that, I got a Tina Turner video looking across at the NYC skyline...as it then was.

  • Twin Towers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dbolger (161340) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @11:45AM (#2370378) Homepage
    ...the computer-altered New York City skyline (the Twin Towers are gone -- replaced by odd-looking new skyscrapers in several shots looking South...

    Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? I mean, obviously the sight of the WTC in these movies may be upsetting to some people, but in my opinion, wiping them out of movies and tv shows like they never even existed is extremely disrespectful to the memories of those who lost their lives in the disaster.
    • by gid (5195)
      I agree with you totally. In fact, I refuse to go see the movie for the sole reason that the WTC was removed, I'm just glad I found out from this article and didn't go ballistic inside the movie theater. This reminds me of things that the Romans did, going around and chipping off the faces of previous Emperors, it's sad really. Embrace the past, learn from it.
    • I've said this to many people, but not that it does any good.

      Removing the WTC from films and pictures does just what the terrorists wanted. it removes 'the abomination'

      Sigh. We'll never learn.
    • I have to agree with you. The thought that movie makers can just edit out what was once a powerful symbol of world commerce is almost as if to say, it was just a bad dream. It never really happened. Downright scary.
    • The next step is to recall all existing books/movies/pictures etc and remove the WTC from them. Then destroy the original media by dropping them into the memory hole to be devoured by the flames. Then reissue the new media with the towers removed, thereby completly wiping the memory from everyone in Oceania.

      Man, I sure hope we get those Eastasia guys this time. I don't know if I can handle another week of hate.

    • Re:Twin Towers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Sunday September 30, 2001 @12:56PM (#2370562) Homepage Journal

      Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? I mean, obviously the sight of the WTC in these movies may be upsetting to some people, but in my opinion, wiping them out of movies and tv shows like they never even existed is extremely disrespectful to the memories of those who lost their lives in the disaster.

      I definitely agree. It sometimes reminds me of the Orwellian vision of continuously altered history, in which all records were updated to reflect the current version of truth, making it look as if there had never been a different one. I understand that the surface purpose of this editing is to avoid pangs of unpleasant emotion, but I'm not sure if avoidance is the healthiest course.


      I'm reminded of Jessica Mitford's analysis of the funeral industry [salon.com], which has so sanitized and commercialized death that families have no practical connection to the corpses of their loved ones, and thus often have difficulty dealing with the reality of the event. Sometimes exposure rather than avoidance is the fastest path to acceptance of a tragedy.

      • The right thing to do seems fairly obvious. Films whose time frames are before 2001-09-11 should include the WTC towers; ones set a year or two after that date should not include the two towers, and onces set more than a couple of years later might speculate on replacement buildings.

        My guess for replacements would be a few 60-story towers of a similar design. These would be less tempting targets while replacing the lost office space. There would, of course, be a memorial, but it wouldn't be visible in the skyline.

        "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."
    • I'm not sure I agree with you that it's wrong. Movies are fantasy, and this one's a comedy as well, why would the makers want to sour the comedy by throwing in reminders of what happened recently? I bet if people saw the WTC buildings a few times they might not have had as good a time as Katz and the people in Katz's theater seemed to. It's fantasy movie, and a fantasy New York... they can make it anything they want to.

      But replacing them digitally was probably too obvious. I'm sure lots of people noticed the change and thought about the WTC anyway, so it probably wasn't that effective and it got people thinking the way you are... about the moral value of doing that in a movie. Wrong move, but not out of disrespect.

      I haven't seen the movie, but I think they probably should have tried to change the scenes instead, if possible, to a locale where you couldn't see the WTC.
    • Re:Twin Towers (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cybermage (112274)
      Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong?

      While I agree with you that this sort of thing is wrong, I think Katz may be wrong. While a building was definitely added, as part of the plot, I saw no evidence that the Twin Towers had been removed. There are many, many shots of the skyline in the movie, but I don't recall a single one that looked at that part of Manhattan, and I was looking for it.

      At one point, the camera was panning south through the skyline, but cut to the next scene before it was south enough to reach the WTC. Was this edited? If so, good, 'cause I was tired of all the skyline fller.
    • by Shelled (81123)
      Welcome to the politically correct new world order. Soon for the sake of moral sensitivities, we'll be erasing all references to the WTC from literature as well. It's starting to feel like an Orwell book.
    • Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? I mean, obviously the sight of the WTC in these movies may be upsetting to some people, but in my opinion, wiping them out of movies and tv shows like they never even existed is extremely disrespectful to the memories of those who lost their lives in the disaster.

      I agree completely.

      The other day I saw a movie that took place in California in 1998, and they showed it without any glaciers, and there were no dinosaurs walking around either! How disrespectful to the memories of all the primitive hominid people who were killed by glaciers, and all the dinosaurs who perished in natural cataclysm, that we should just pretend they never existed.

      Um, if a movie is set after the towers were destroyed, it doesn't make much sense to show them standing.

    • by BinBoy (164798)
      They should replace the towers with two gigantic swirly lollipops. If they're going to be stupid, do it right.

    • If Hollywood producers were going back through archives and removing the WTC from reruns and old movies, I would be very disturbed. But they're not doing that.

      Zoolander is intended to be a satirical comedy. The writers and producers want their audiences laughing...something that's not going to happen if you show them pictures of the WTC ten days after they collapsed. We don't see Jay Leno poking fun at the people who died in those buildings, so I'm not sure why we're up in arms about a comedy that doesn't show the twin towers.

      Nobody's forgetting or supressing what happened (just turn on any television station for evidence). An incredible amount of footage has emerged from this disaster, and I imagine that the WTC will be better known and recognized by our children than what our generation associates with Pearl Harbor (which has hardly been forgotten).

      I fully expect to see the "City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" (one of my favorite episodes) on my TV screen again -- but not anytime soon, and I'm not chastising FOX for that, either.
    • ...not a historical documentary. I mean, they also alter the skyline to show the fictional Mugato headquarters, and the waterfront to put Zoolander's "School for Kids Who Don't Read Good and Who Don't Do Other Stuff Good" next to the UN complex.

      I agree there's a time for historical accuracy, but this movie really isn't it if you ask me.

  • some people laugh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by donglekey (124433) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @11:47AM (#2370383) Homepage
    Because something is funny, not because they are wanting to escape social trends. You would love to believe that everyone is laughing for the same reason but that's just not how it is, sorry. People don't all think exactly alike just because you can catagorize them or sterotype them.
  • Erasing history? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by christurkel (520220) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @11:58AM (#2370407) Homepage Journal
    I find that digitalling removing WTC images from movies (past and present) disturbing. It is like we are trying to erase the fact they ever existed, which is wrong. I know seeing the WTC towers will be disturbing but for 30 years they were a distinct part of Americana. What are we going to do, cut pictures of them out of magazines and text books? Pull the remake of King Kong from the shelves?
    • Pull the remake of King Kong from the shelves?

      You say that like it's a bad thing.
    • >>>> find that digitalling removing WTC images from movies (past and present) disturbing. It is like we are trying to erase the fact they ever existed, which is wrong.>>>>>

      It just reminds me of Winston Smith's job...
  • by Malic (15038) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @12:02PM (#2370415)
    My brother Rob Schrab (creator of SCUD: The Disposable Assassin [scud.com] and co-writer of Heat Vision & Jack [altslashgo.com]) did some second unit direction in Zoolander and had some creative/artwork input into the brainwashing sequence.

    There's also this other little thing he is working on called Robot Bastard [robotbastard.com] that you may wish to check out...

    (Heaven help the server now!)
  • iMac sequence (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by nivelo9 (409455)
    I guess Macs aren't really any easier to use than other computers, despite what Apple says.

    "In the computer? Ohhhh...."

    PS didja catch the 2001 reference in that scene?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      PS didja catch the 2001 reference in that scene?

      Yeah, we all "caught it". Hellen Keller with Alzheimer's in an isolation tank would have "caught it".

  • by mbrod (19122)
    Does JonKatz liking this movie mean it is good, and I should go see this movie, or it is bad and I shouldn't waste my money?
    • With his string of 'quality reviews' this summer, I'd suggest the latter. I work at a theater and saw a few parts of it...don't even bother. I won't.
  • During a fit of mindless channel surfing last night, I stopped on E! and they were doing a review of Zoolander. This review reads as if he just wrote down everything E! had to say about the movie and then trimmed it down 2000 words or less.
  • My impression, after the first 15 minutes, was quite different. I think, it was a "rip" on the stupid among us, who would like to see a rip on the "American fashion industry" in particular and globalization in general. Mr. Katz included.

    Well, of course, this will considered a flame bait... Silly, silly...

    -mi

  • by LeninZhiv (464864) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @12:26PM (#2370478)
    I for one have decided to steer clear of this film after reading the rather sobering reflections Roger Ebert had on its message in his review. [suntimes.com]

    A lot of us need some escapism these days, but I don't think that the best place to be finding it is in a movie that pokes fun at muslims and considers their one of their contries (Malaysia) inconsequential.

    Ebert's point that I liked the best was that, "If the Malaysians made a comedy about the assassination of the president of the United States because of his opposition to slavery, it would seem approximately as funny to us as "Zoolander" would seem to them."

    Comedies like this add to the dislike of America that was exploited by a few crazy lunatics to lead to the Sep. 11 tragedy; how sad is it to see that the first big comedy to come out of the States after those events just pours salt on the wounds of the have-not countries of the world; especially since Malaysia has tried very hard to improve its possition in the world (witness the Petronas towers and the F1 grand prix).

    In light of these concerns I think that those who are sensitive to the pain that certain American attitudes can cause to the people of other nations would do well to avoid this film.

    • by alienmole (15522) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @12:53PM (#2370554)
      I haven't seen the movie, but apparently you haven't either. Is it possible Ebert is being oversensitive and missing the point? (Answer: yes!) After all, the movie is apparently making fun of the fashion industry, and the assassination plot idea is somewhat amusing - and certainly not intended to be serious - despite Ebert's heavy-handed attempt to turn it around. Ebert hasn't actually asked any Malaysians what they think.

      Please, feel free to boycott this movie because you don't like dumb American comedies (defined as almost anything involving an ex-cast member of SNL), but don't boycott it because it's politically insensitive. Don't confuse Ebert's inappropriate hand-wringing with political sensitivity.

      • I used to respect Roger Ebert's opinion until I read his review of "Fight Club". Now I think that movies was pretty damn good, but I respect the fact that not everyone would like it. But Ebert's chief reason for not liking it (stated clearly in his review) was that he was afraid that there would be many young people aping the fighting in the movie. He actually admitted that some interesting philosophy discussions would come out of the movie, but he said they weren't worth the risk of the young kids getting hurt. Seriously.


        Why do I bring this up? Because any reviewer of art who puts these types of fears (wholly unjustified in retrospect) ahead of the artistic merits of art reviewed has obviously lost what is required to be a serious movie reviewer. He has become and old-man, a reactionary, a nostalgic fat ass pining for the comfort of the art of his youth.


        He is no long relavent to film an any meaningful way.

        Shun his worthless opinion at every opportunity.


        BTW, this is a general trend of his reviewing for the past serveral years, not my reaction only to the review mentioned above.

    • by zhensel (228891) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:04PM (#2370741) Homepage Journal
      Ebert has been known to be overly PC and severely miss the point of movies. See his review of Fight Club. Now, I'm not nearly the fan of Fight Club that some people are, but I at least realize that there are three distinct levels of meaning to that and not simply the base "fighting is cool" message that Ebert focuses on. I imagine Ebert must've gotten a few slick beatings in his day to carry such a grudge. I do see his point on this issue, but really, he even admits that beyond this glaring error (in his eyes), the movie does score some points. His rating is seemingly solely based on the un-PC-ness of the flick and not its value otherwise. Making movies about fake assasination plots are great fun I think - perhaps picking Malaysia was a mistake, but to censor something created before the September 11th events because of the September 11th events is a huge mistake. Censorship is a greater crime against humanity than anything that happened September 11th. That might sound insensitive, but I mean it.
    • It's well known that roger ebert is a studio shill, and has been since Siskel died.. perhaps before.

      The movies he likes are movies the studios pay him to like. The movies he dislikes are ones where he wasn't bribed enough.

      My personal favorite movie reviewer is Elvis Mitchell of the new york times. If you want a really good source, though, check out www.rottentomatoes.com, which gives you a lovely sampling of all the reviews for a particular movie.

      -gleam

      -gleam
  • by Anonymous Coward
    David Duchovny does an uncredited walk-on as a conspiratorial ex-model whose face is never shown, but whose hand -- used in cosmetic ads -- is instantly recognizable to Zoolander from catalogs.

    Whose face is never shown? Katz obviously didn't see the movie.

    Of course Duchovny's face is shown. The joke is, he's hideous except for his hand. Duhhhh.
  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @12:32PM (#2370493)
    I hate to break this to you, but the last thing this movie was was a commentary on fashion or pop culture. Its such a funny yet completely ridiculous take on the fashion industry that if you saw some kind of message in there then you've got bigger things to worry about. There's no jabs at real designers or at people who buy from them just surreal characters and situations designed to deliver three gags per minute.

    Saying this movie has social value is like saying dumb and dumber put the rich elite in their place. Its typical Stiller and Wil Ferrel comedy turned up to 11. Some of the gags don't work, but this kept me laughing quite a bit.

    Not to mention its got Milla Jovovich playing a very sexy fashion henchwoman. Natalie Portman makes a cameo too, in fact every celebrity in the known universe makes a cameo.
    • I couldn't keep reading after this line:

      "It's not entirely clear how much of this was the
      quality of the movie, how much that people
      obviously needed to laugh"

      Katz is a little too anxious to find deeper
      meanings. Sometimes a duck really is just
      a duck.
  • WTC Removal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daitengu (172781) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @12:54PM (#2370556) Homepage Journal
    So the WTC Towers have been removed from this movie, and will probably be removed from a few more movies that show the NY skyline. Why?


    Because it's disturbing to some people?
    Some people have mentioned before that it dishonors the memory of the building, and the fine people that were in it, and i totally agree.


    So some people will be offended, what happens if those people watch older movies on video that prominently show the WTC Towers? is Hollywood going to grab all the films off the shelf, and edit them out of there?


    Personally I'm offended by the fact that they were edited out. It's a great piece of our modern history, and Hollywood is afraid of having anything to do with it.

    • Re:WTC Removal (Score:2, Insightful)

      > Hollywood is afraid of having anything to do with it

      Wouldn't you if you wanted to produce something that was supposed to make people laugh? Zoolander is a ditzy, no-brains comedy that doesn't need to depress its audience with reminders of the terrorism that just happened. This movie isn't some sort of historical documentary, so either way, removed or not, the towers' appearance doesn't really matter.

      If this had something besides just another silly comedy, you might be able to talk about dishonoring memories (and others about Orwelian nightmares), but as it is it didn't matter one way or the other whether the towers were in this movie or not.
  • by Alien54 (180860)
    It strikes me that, of all things, one of the things we can do to stick it to the Taliban is to promote Art and Culture.

    After all, They have banished TV, Radio, Music and Musical instruments, statues, freedom of speech, etc.

    So everything we do to support and promote the culture, especially the best of any culture, is as deadly as any bullet fired in their direction.

    Art can be a weapon.

  • New Tagline (Score:1, Troll)

    by dasunt (249686)


    Slashdot: News for Nerds. Stuff that matters. And now, movie reviews!


    Okay, I understood the sci-fi & fantasy movie reviews, but it looks like we are degrading into reviewing *any* movie.

  • Really. Why do we have to see Jon Katz do movie reviews? Sure, he's an industry pundit. But it's the technology industry, not the movie industry. News for Nerds. Stuff that matters. Does reading about a technology pundit's opinion on Zoolander matter? Not really. Why don't we put up Jim Barksdale's top ten porn flicks of all time, if that's the case?

    Sigh. I usually ignore people that flame about Slashdot losing it's focus, because I know that geekdom has many circles. Sure, LoTR and Star Wars might be just fine. But Zoolander? Ben Stiller is a genius, yes. But there's no particular nerd genre appeal.

    Let's all just tell Jon to get a KriticKatz.com website for these things, and keep the front page of Slashdot at least slightly focused. Please?
    • Sigh... If you don't want to see Jon Katz stories, don't! It's very easy. Click here [slashdot.org], scroll down to where you can exclude authors from the homepage, check the third box down, hit save at the bottom, and you'll never have to see one of his stories again.

      Of course, that makes posting trolls in response to his stories all that much harder...
  • David Duchovny does an uncredited walk-on as a conspiratorial ex-model whose face is never shown...
    As a matter of fact you do see his face,through most of his major scene. I hadn't realized it was him until then.
  • by NonSequor (230139) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @01:38PM (#2370684) Journal
    ...if they digitally removed Will Ferrell. I hate him.
  • ..this is the one movie I absolutely do not want to see this year. I can't wait to go read the The Filthy Critic's [bigempire.com] review of this one (can you say one finger?)!
  • by dstone (191334) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:35PM (#2370814) Homepage
    We don't erase images of our fallen war heros. We don't erase images of our assassinated presidents. Why change history now? When they filmed the movie, they were standing. Now they're not. So what? I'll tell you a litle story... My favorite pizza joint is Nat's New York Pizzeria (I'm not in New York, but these guys claim to do an authentic NY style pizza). So I'm sitting there a few days ago, chowing down on a couple of thin slabs of za. And I turn to my left and nearly choke in awe to see a huuuge photo of the Twin Towers framed on the wall. It's about 6 feet by 4 feet and includes the Brooklyn Bridge in the forground for added context. Anyways, beautiful picture and it's been there forever (I asked). I guess I never noticed it. But I'm glad I did now and I'm glad they didn't erase their history. (I'm also glad to see that they're not playing it up at all to take advantage of it.)
  • by Drath (50447) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:59PM (#2370897)
    I find it interesting that they would remove images of the WTC from movies yet they show the planes exploding inside the tower and guys falling 100 stories on TV in an endless loop.
  • by Glasswire (302197)
    Please, please Hollywood, don't remove the World Trade Center from any movies that are supposed to occur before Sept 11 2001.
    This is altering history in the same manner that the Soviet Union was infamous for. Officals in the USSR who had fallen from favor would be airbrushed-out of archival photos and histories - re-written with the goal of making the "un-person" not only cease to exist, but to cease to have EVER existed. (See Orwell's 1984 for the mechanics of this)
    This is wrong in a free society that (I hope) values truth over pleasing fiction. We have to get over the idea that we can wish troubling facts and events away.
    For better or worse, our children and future generations seeing old movies should see towers where there were towers in the first half of 2001. If that leads kids or others to uncomfortable questions about what happened to those tall buildings, maybe a history lesson would not be such a bad thing...
  • Female supermodels have long been the target of satirists, but this is the most head-on assault yet on the men.

    Jon, this film WAS a send-up of female models. It is simply more politically correct to use male models. Otherwise the movie would have seemed vicious rather than funny. You can get away with much more by being indirect.

    I took the movie as being set in an alternate universe in which male models are popular in that same way that female models are in ours.

    As long as I'm posting, let me say that the trailers contained every funny moment from the film with the exception of the gas station scene. In fact some scenes were funnier in the trailer. The David Duchovny scene was hilarious in the trailers, but fell flat in the movie itself due to less frantic timing.

    If you want to go to a funny movie, go see Rat Race. It really exceeded my expectations. Zoolander had a great concept (you're right on that point Jon, congrats) but the execution wasn't there.

  • 4-time? (Score:3, Informative)

    by nlh (80031) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:18AM (#2372415) Homepage
    Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), the four-time Male Model of the Year winner

    *ahem* -- he was the three-time winner. Rememeber when they showed the banner with the 4 crossed out?
  • Ebert and Roeper: two thumbs down

    'nuff said

    (sorry Ben)

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