The original film, in the 15 years since its release, has slowly gained larger and larger following, giving it cult status and primed for a sequel so here it is. Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) are back and have not learned much, though learning was never their strong suit; in the years since the last film took place, an accident sent them both into hiding, after killing Derek’s wife and consequently having his son removed by social services (he didn’t know how to look after a child, who could have guessed?), as well as disfiguring Hansel’s face and ending his modelling career. They are now coming out of hiding for a special fashion event, ran by the hottest fashion designer Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig), and of course things go as badly and idiotic as you’d expect.
Stiller and Wilson dive right back in feet first as if nothing has changed, they’re older and wiser, these actors bring their characters right back to the old days to pick up where they left off. Having, in the 15 years that have passed, seen Stiller flex various acting, producing and directing muscles seeing him do this character again gives me slightly more respect for it, and that writing something so far removed from himself and making it believable is slightly impressive, not overly as we’re still talking about a character who’s a complete moron. Whereas with Wilson it feels more as if he hasn’t quite stretched very far and though coming back to this character seems like a natural progression, it also seems very much business as usual, the same could be said for Will Ferrell’s return as Mugatu. The surprise and disappointment however, comes from Wiig as Alexanya, her performance and completely over the top character is fantastic but after fairly large part in the promotion of the film, her screen time is particularly limited and feels like a huge waste of such a great comedy talent. The addition of Penelope Cruz, although her performance is generally good and it clearly follows the tone of the film, it feels somewhat forgettable because looking at the film as a whole, her part seems not altogether a necessity and ironically more window dressing. Though talking about the cast of the film, it can’t be done without acknowledging the sheer amount of cameos that there are, ridiculously famous faces both in fashion and music, I couldn’t even begin to list all of them but the one misplaced choice is Neil Degrasse Tyson, his constant appearances in film and TV of the last year from Big Bang Theory to Brooklyn Nine-Nine are becoming embarrassing, this is a man who is a scientist and apparently has nothing better to do than go around making random appearances in everything that will take him.
The film’s actual story does still feel like a fairly natural choice, although it is relatively simple that can be forgiven considering the type of film we’re talking about. It gives a very obvious telling of how ridiculous the youth of today can be, with language that’s barely coherent and technology that is out of control, which is not at all relatable to some, especially those with miniscule IQs whom have been in hiding for several years. The humour in general does follow the style of the original, although that isn’t the most daunting of tasks but there are few big laughs despite the comedy being present all the way through the film which is slightly disappointing but doesn’t take away from the fact that the film is entertaining. It’s a well chosen progression of the film and a satisfying enough sequel, but given the amount of time that has passed, other than some great cameos there’s little to fulfil the expectation that comes with that amount of time.
Given that the film has not received the most flattering of reviews, they’re generally not altogether fair, it’s a solid film which is funny and entertaining, full of mishaps and misguided adventure as well as of course being at its core, unbelievably silly but that’s the charm of it. More would have been expected from the film, but going in with no expectations and just to see a comedy, it’s actually quite good, you’re straight away back into the world of the first film and these are characters that you somehow love but want to slap at the same time. It’s a fun watch with continuous humour and realistically just pokes fun at today’s world.