New York Times’ ‘Zoolander 2’ Review Eviscerates ‘Trollish’ Ben Stiller in Vicious Commentary

Ben Stiller plays Derek Zoolander and Penelope Cruz plays Valentina Valencia in Zoolander 2.
Ben Stiller plays Derek Zoolander and Penelope Cruz plays Valentina Valencia in Zoolander 2. Wilson Webb/Paramount Pictures

More evil than Mugatu! New York Times film critic Stephen Holden didn’t hold back when reviewing the buzzed-about comedy sequel Zoolander 2 on Thursday, February 11. Not only did Holden pan the film, but he also took aim at star and director Ben Stiller, making oddly personal comments about the comedian’s looks. 

“Mr. Stiller is a perfect case study in male insecurity,” Holden wrote. “Depending on the role, the camera angle, the costume, and the hair and makeup, Mr. Stiller, 50, swings between polarities of trollishness and desirability.”

The writer didn’t stop there, continuing to bash Stiller’s appearance, saying, “In some movies, he appears dwarfish and deformed with a head that’s too big for his body and empty space-alien eyes. He is of average height but looks shorter. And when bulked up, he appears hunched and musclebound.”

Ben Stiller plays Derek Zoolander, Owen Wilson plays Hansel, and Penelope Cruz plays Valentina Valencia in 'Zoolander 2.'
Ben Stiller plays Derek Zoolander, Owen Wilson plays Hansel, and Penelope Cruz plays Valentina Valencia in 'Zoolander 2.' Philippe Antonello/Paramount Pictures

Even Holden's attempt at a compliment came off as backhanded when he wrote, “But when he fixes those baby blues on the camera and thrusts out his jaw to accentuate his cheekbones, he can pass as handsome: just barely.”

The male-model comedy franchise is a parody of the fashion industry, with catchphrases like “Maybe there’s more to life than being really, really, really ridiculously good-looking.” But Holden seemed to feel as if Stiller has a similar psychology to Zoolander himself.

“One reason the character registers so strongly is that Derek suggests Mr. Stiller’s personal obsession with his looks,” the critic wrote.

Owen Wilson plays Hansel, and Ben Stiller plays Derek Zoolander in 'Zoolander 2.'
Owen Wilson plays Hansel, and Ben Stiller plays Derek Zoolander in 'Zoolander 2.' Wilson Webb/Paramount Pictures

As for the film itself, Holden wasn’t much more forgiving.

“As it bumps along on a stream of mostly unfunny jokes and awkward celebrity sightings, the movie, directed by Mr. Stiller from a scatterbrained screenplay he wrote with Justin Theroux, Nicholas Stoller, and John Hamburg, rapidly loses its charm and turns into a silly, meaningless pseudo-spy-caper that suggests a discarded remnant of the Austin Powers franchise,” he noted.

Zoolander 2 hits theaters on Friday, February 12. 

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