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Chicer and Dumber: 'Zoolander' Returns, Alas

Pretty boys Derek and Hansel are back, and it's (still) all about the pout

(Video) Zoolander 2 Movie Trailer: Models Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) must stop a conspiracy to kill the world's most beautiful people.

Rating: PG-13

Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Stars: Cyrus Arnold, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson

Director: Ben Stiller

Though 15 years have passed since male supermodel Derek Zoolander struck his first goofy pose in Ben Stiller's comedy Zoolander, the man appears little changed in the sequel — unless, that is, you count the emergence of a few gray hairs and the disappearance of more brain cells than he could afford to lose.

Fans of the 2001 original will see many of their favorites resurface in Zoolander 2, as Stiller once again recruits friends, family and famous faces to join him in a silly send-up of the fashion industry. Owen Wilson reprises Hansel, Zoolander's runway nemesis turned ally; Will Ferrell is back as Mugatu, the wacked-out designer now jailed for attempting to assassinate the prime minister of Malaysia; and Christine Taylor (Stiller's real-life wife) reinhabits a ghostly Matilda Jeffries.

Throw in newcomers Penelope Cruz (as an agent of the "fashion police") and Kristen Wiig (delivering an inspired parody of Donatella Versace) and you've got the main players in this comedy set in Rome. Why Rome, you might ask, when Milan is the epicenter of Italian fashion? My hunch: To celebrate turning 50 last November, Stiller (and his pals) simply wished to spend some time in that fabulous capital.

Zoolander 2

Courtesy Wilson Webb/Paramount Pictures

Wilson, Stiller and Cruz mix comedy and fashion in Rome.

The plot — I use the term ironically — brings Zoolander out of retirement to search for his long-lost son, Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold), now keeping a low profile in Rome. And though Hansel must be coaxed to leave the lap of his "orgy family" — led by Kiefer Sutherland, the group must be seen to be believed — he joins Derek in his quest to find the boy. (Zoo 2 is rated PG-13, so don't ask me why the film is peppered with group-sex and bestiality "jokes," one of which I nearly laughed at.)

Together the dynamic dopes dash about the Eternal City, racing from a fashion-show catwalk here to a maximum-security "fashion prison" there to an ancient Roman bathhouse farther along. Their path is littered with cameo-hungry celebrities — Sting, Ariana Grande, Jim Lehrer — which turns the viewing experience into a round of Spot the Superstar! One particularly weird encounter is with All, a futuristic supermodel played with creepy androgyny by Benedict Cumberbatch; if he/she/it is the new face of fashion, give me back my bell-bottoms!

So … anything even mildly redemptive here? Well, Zoo 2 does try to weave in a story line about mending ruptured father-son relationships, and there's a subplot about beautiful people fruitlessly seeking the fountain of youth. Both, alas, are too inane to merit further description. But if Academy Awards are ever handed out for product placement, expect to see clips from the closing scenes of Zoolander 2, where Vogue editor Anna Wintour helps designers Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, Alexander Wang and Valentino plug their fashion lines on the silver screen.

Fashionistas will, therefore, hasten to pay full freight to catch Zoolander 2 in theaters. Everyone else, wait for this bit of finery to come stuffed in a Redbox.

Jenny Peters is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist.

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