bill-swift - April 23, 2014
There are certain films that define an era. What movie better illustrates the decadence of the mid-seventies disco scene better than Saturday Night Fever, for example. To me there are several films that encapsulate the early 2000's but one stands out. The early 21st century was a ridiculous time. We were all living in a bubble of stuff and silliness. We didn't think and no one was really doing the thinking for us. This is why Zoolander was the perfect film for the time. It encapsulated the zeitgeist of the time in its moronic narcissistic hero Derek Zoolander.
Zoolander tells the tale of an over the hill male model named Derek Zoolander, (played to perfection by Ben Stiller), who finds himself being eclipsed by a newcomer named Hansel, (Owen Wilson), who is so hot right now. He quite male modelling after his friends die in a tragic gasoline fire accident. But a sinister cabal of fashion designers led by the evil Mugatu, (brriiiiillliantly portrayed by Will Ferrell) want Derek Zoolander to assassinate the Malaysian prime minister because he wants to outlaw child labor. Apparently, male models have been used for all major political assassinations for the last two hundred years. Then it's up to Derek, a plucky reporter played by Christine Taylor, and Hansel to stop Derek from carrying out Mugatu's evil plan. But when is Magnum going to drop?
This is an absurd movie. The script is pretty thin and is just a structure to hold up a bunch of silly jokes. But therein lies Zoolander's brilliance and why it was so perfect for the early 2000's. This movie came out right before 9/11 when no one took themselves too seriously. But even after the tragic events of 9/11 the movie offered us mindless escapism at a time when we desperately needed it. Whenever I'm down I cue up the clip below of Derek and his friends having a gasoline fight to "Wake me up Before You Go Go" and I instantly perk up.