When it comes to comedy sequels, they rarely, if ever, surpass the original. One simply cannot reinvent the wheel, one can merely add a few new jokes and some colorful characters to it. Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to Zoolander No. 2, a sequel that took 15 years to make. Paramount Pictures and writer/director/producer and star Ben Stiller seriously couldn’t come up with a better followup to the adventures of a dimwitted male model which was a very clever satire on the fashion world. 15 years and they came up with a slightly amusing yet contrived and forced spy adventure with plenty of broad humor and corny zingers. Sure, it works (here and there) but the only saving graces are the interactions between some of the characters, most notably scenes with Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, two seasoned comedians and former SNL cast mates. The moments between Stiller and Owen Wilson are okay but it just feels like we’ve gone down this runway before.
Paul Thomas Anderson is something of an enigma. His films explore dark themes and highlight the very worst of human behavior. From Boogie Nights to The Master, he places well known actors in his films which pushes the envelope a bit and they deliver performances that are certainly outside of their comfort zones. The new crime dramedy Inherent Vice continues Anderson’s trend of placing characters in precarious situations and squeezing awkward tension and off kilter humor out of many of the scenes. His latest offering isn’t exactly a classic and it tells a rather confusing film noir-esque story. Serious fans of Anderson and star Joaquin Phoenix should check this film out but even they might be detracted from the picture’s ridiculously complicated plot.
In 2006, the world was introduced to the Night at the Museum film series, a cinematic adaptation of Milan Trenc’s 1993 children’s book of the same name. The film focused on Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) and his adventures as a night security guard at New York’s Museum of Natural History. A magical artifact eventually causes the exhibits to come alive and it is then up to Larry to basically survive the night. A sequel, Battle of the Smithsonian was released in 2009 and it continued the plot with Larry trying to survive another night, this time in Washington, D.C.’s famed Smithsonian Institution. A third and final installment, Secret of the Tomb, will be released this year during the holiday season, so the whole family can enjoy one final museum adventure with Larry and the gang.
In recent years, the comedic entity known as the Frat Pack has suffered something of a decline. Will Ferrell and his band of misfits enjoyed a good decade or so of sophomoric antics and juvenile adventures. Things for this group of clowns basically came to a halt when the hugely successful The Hangover started cloning itself with its sequels. With those films, the world was exposed to a new member of the pack, Mr. Zack Galifianakis, a hairy hobbit-like gentleman with a unique and highly unpredictable brand of humor. His latest comedy Are You Here pairs him up with veteran Frat Packer Owen Wilson. Throw in an awkward performance from funny girl Amy Poehler and you’d think you’d have all the ingredients necessary for a winning chuckle-fest. Sadly, the results here are lackluster at best.