This season’s “Saturday Night Live” may be sans late-night goddesses Molly Shannon and Cheri Oteri but Zoolander is proof positive that Will Ferrell is still the show’s greatest asset. Although Ben Stiller’s newest isn’t as gut-busting as a “Mad TV” sketch, it’s a wickedly absurd jab at the male modeling profession: it’s VH1 meets Austin Powers meets SNL (never offensive, instantly forgettable but deliriously fun). Fashion designer Jacobim Mugatu (Ferrell) spearheads an attack against the Malaysian prime minister by brainwashing supermodel Derek Zoolander (Stiller), famous for his “Blue Steel” look (uncannily similar to Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Sex and the City” mug shots). Male models are at the center of the world’s most famous assassinations; from Lincoln’s anti-slavery stance to Kennedy’s Cuban embargo, every political action seems to place a direct burden on fashion’s trendy strongholds. Indeed, Zoolander paints a pointed picture of the modeling industry as a ludicrously self-contained unit. Inter-personal strife is taken to the underground, where strutting competitions are not unlike Mexican cockfights. With the aide of Time reporter Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor, Stiller’s wife) and an ex-hand model (played by a scruffy David Duchovny), Zoolander and fellow model Hansel (Owen Wilson) bring down Mugatu and his evil bitch-mate Katinka (a devilishly delectable Milla Jovovich—yes, we want to eat her). Mugatu’s brainwashing video is so preposterously wacky that it sticks out like a sore thumb (much like Reese Witherspoon’s application video from Legally Blonde) in an otherwise hit-or-miss comic landscape. Yes, male models are idiots (three of them accidentally kill themselves in one of the film’s finer moments). It’s a one-joke movie but a funny one nonetheless.
Paramount presents Zoolander in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. From deep blacks to hyper-saturated blues and pinks (and everything in between), every facet of Barry Peterson's eye-popping camera work is wonderfully preserved here. The disc's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also full of punch, most notably during sequences that implement cornball '80s anthems.
Zoolander's "really, really good looking" interactive menus speak for themselves. Menus have never been this fun to look at thanks to Warholesque transitional elements and Will Farrell's gyrating Mugatu. One of five extended scenes offers at least one killer line ("Come join our sex party") though these sequences, along with an additional five deleted scenes, are most notable for Ben Stiller's commentary. The outtakes are unbelievably funny and go heavy on the Farrell. For die-hard Zoolander fans, the disc celebrates his not-so-humble beginnings with original skits from the 1996 and 1997 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards. Also included on this hearty DVD edition are promotional spots, photo galleries, The Wiseguys music video "Star The Commotion" and an alternate end title sequence. A commentary track by Stiller and writers Drake Sather and John Hamburg more than addresses the challenge of having a not-so-smart protagonist moving a plot along. Still, this track is more valuable for the ready-made trivia (Andy Dick was to originally play the part of Mugatu).
At the very least, Zoolander is the most superficially good looking DVD of the year.