Zoolander - Movie Screenshot

Zoolander (2001)
Director: Ben Stiller Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller, Jon Voight

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 85 Minutes

Tagline: “3% Body Fat. 1% Brain Activity”

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but does that apply to movies too? I’m not sure it should as one look at the cover and tagline of this one should tell you all you need to know! Set in the glamorous / preposterous (delete as appropriate) world of the fashion industry where top designers who rely on cheap child labour in Malaysia are panicked by the Prime Minister of that country declaring that he intends to outlaw such practices. The industry bigwigs then order top designer, Mugatu (Ferrell), to find a male model stupid enough to be brainwashed into assassinating the Prime Minister before he can make his decree. Enter world famous veteran male supermodel, Derek Zoolander (Stiller), who is struggling to deal with brash upstart, Hansel (Wilson), stealing his limelight. But is anyone really that stupid?

Zoolander - Movie Screenshot

Yep, it’s a ridiculous concept, based on a pretty ridiculous character introduced by Stiller at the 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards, but I’m sure it’s not intended to be anything else. Taking the not-exactly-groundbreaking revelation that models are as dumb as a bag of hammers and stretching it to breaking point, Stiller, who also directs, has a ball as “really really ridiculously good looking” moron, Derek. Much of the cast is made up of his family and friends with fellow ‘Frat Pack’ alumni Owen Wilson as rival model, Hansel, Vince Vaughn as his estranged, mute brother, and Will Ferrell on top form as fashion mogul, Mugatu. Joining them is his real-life wife, Christine Taylor, as snooping reporter, Matilda, and his father, Jerry Stiller, as his manager, Maury. Only Jovovich as Mugatu’s henchman (or henchwoman), Katinka, will be unfamiliar to Stiller fans.

Zoolander - Movie Screenshot

This isn’t the kind of film that calls for particularly amazing acting on the part of most of them though, the comedic burden is placed squarely on the shoulders of the three leads, a requirement each is well-versed in exceeding. The premise of Stiller and Wilson as top models is funny enough to begin with, but everything is so over-the- top and exagerated, whether it’s Derek’s retirement from modelling and subsequent attempt at coal-mining to his friends petrol fight (I guarantee you won’t be able to listen to Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go without thinking of this film again!), not to mention near enough every scene featuring Mugatu! There are also cameos aplenty including David Bowie, Natalie Portman, Billy Zane, Lenny Kravitz, and a variety of fashion-world regulars.

Zoolander - Movie Screenshot

Zoolander didn’t do well at the box office but like so many other films, it found its feet on home release and finally got the plaudits it deserves, and to such as extent that there’s now apparently a sequel planned! You won’t find an intelligent, inter-weaving plot here, nor multi-million dollar special effects, but if you have any interest in absurd spoofs, this is one for you. Let’s face it, the fashion world is as ripe for spoofing as anything could be, and Stiller lets rip with aplomb, even finding time to riff on Godfather Part 2 and 2001 of all films! In fact, pretty much every scene has a gag of some sort and there’s a good hit-rate here. The soundtrack is good too, with some well-placed music complementing the insanity well. Stupid, ridiculous, absurd, and crazy? Yes! But it’s also really really ridiculously funny!


RKS Score: 8/10

Behind Enemy Lines

Behind enemy lines - Movie Poster

Behind Enemy Lines (2001)
Director: John Moore Starring: Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, Gabriel Macht, Vladimir Mashkov, Olek Krupa, Joaquim de Almeida

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 101 Minutes

Tagline: “In War There Are Some Lines You Should Never Cross”

Better known these days for his comedic tomfoolery with other ‘frat pack’ alumni, Owen Wilson is less well known as an action star, and yet here he is in the leading role of one such film, and with nary a humorous moment to be found! Pretty good he is too in this Bosnian War-set thriller, based unofficially on the experiences of a real-life American pilot. Lt. Chris Burnett (Wilson) is stationed on an aircraft carrier in the Adriatic Sea and has grown bored and frustrated with his career in the US Air Force and is preparing to leave. However, Burnett, along with Stackhouse, his buddy and the pilot to Wilson’s navigator, are given a reconnaissance mission on the eve of their ship’s departure. Briefly straying off-mission, they discover some far from friendly activity in a supposed demilitarised zone, including evidence of war atrocities. Obviously keen to keep their secret, the Bosnian-Serb army shoots them down.

Behind enemy lines - Movie Screenshot 1

Looks like someone could use a white jacket!

After an exhilarating, edge-of-the-seat, trying-to-avoid-surface-to-air missiles sequence, their F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (apparently) fighter is finally downed over occupied territory. Now stranded… well, behind enemy lines, it’s up to Burnett to stay alive and evade capture by the enemy long enough to make it to safety. Back on the carrier, a frustrated Admiral Reigart (Hackman) tries to find a way around the red tape preventing him from sending a rescue party after Burnett, who is being relentlessly persued by pretty much the whole Bosnian-Serb army, including a very dedicated and skilled sniper (Mashkov). Having to remain undetected in both rural and urban areas, Burnett, for the first time in his career, has to remember and make use of his military training, as well as hope for a bit of luck!

Behind enemy lines - Movie Screenshot 2

Burnett tries to outrun trip-wire explosives…

Granted, there’s not a hugely intricate, interweaving plot, but this is a solid and exciting action film, albeit fairly typical Hollywood fare. Gene Hackman is in familiar territory but does well with his limited screen time. Owen Wilson, however, proves surprisingly proficient in his portrayal of the initially panic-stricken, deer-in-the-headlights, Burnett, clearly out of his comfort zone. Also very noteworthy is Vladimir Mashkov as chilling Serb sniper, Sasha, hell-bent on taking his target out. Despite being filmed in Slovakia and featuring no Serb actors in the cast (none wanted anything to do with the production, apparently), John Moore does a good job of recreating the war-torn landscape of civil-war era Bosnia, complete with armies, Bosniak Guerillas, towns in ruins, and roadside wreckage, each separated by stretches of desolate countryside. Also keenly felt is the sense of isolation felt by Burnett as he sporadically manages to make contact with Reigart inbetween dodging Bosnian-Serb bullets and grenades, and hiding under corpses.

Overall, Behind Enemy Lines isn’t perfect – it’s very much a Hollywood film, complete with a suitably over-the-top, unrealistic ending (although, surprisingly, no love interest!), but it’s more about the journey than the destination, right? And it’s a solidly entertaining journey throughout.