U – 87mins – 2016 – 3D
18 years after the world’s stork population stopped delivering tots to expectant parents (“there are so many other ways to make babies now,”) and started working in package delivery for online retailer cornerstore.com, the factory’s sole human – an orphan named Tulip (Katie Crown) brought up by the feathered flock after her homing beacon was destroyed – accidentally restarts the baby-making machine on the eve of soon-to-be-boss Junior’s (Andy Samberg) term at the top.
… Keep Scuttling!
12 – 98mins – 2016
Quote-heavy and gif-friendly in its all-round over-exuberance, 2001’s first Zoolander is considered a modern classic of the Brat Pack comedy era – much like Will “Mugatu” Ferrell’s Anchorman. I can never proclaim to being that enamoured with either if I’m being honest, although both have remained so prescient in the public consciousness that sequels – whether necessary or not – were guaranteed money-makers.
It took co-writer, star and director Ben Stiller some 15 years to resurrect his chique-but-stupid fashion model Derek Zoolander, who has been in icy exile (like a “hermit crab”) since the collapse of his Centre For Kids Who Can’t Read Good, death of his wife (Christine Taylor) and some seriously poor spaghetti-based parenting skills saw Child Protection services take his son, Derek Jr (Cyrus Arnold), into care.
But now a mystery assassin is gunning down the world’s most famous pop stars, all of whom take a “Blue Steel” selfie before they pop their beautiful clogs. Chances are only the creator of the trademark look and his former fashion rival-cum-BFF-cum-rival-again Hansel (Owen Wilson) hold the key to cracking this deadly plot – but can they be trusted to work full-stop, much less undercover and together?! And how will they fit in to a much-changed, androgyny-embracing industry?
Bringing back every successful element from the first film and adding a walk-in wardrobe’s worth more, Zoolander No. 2 is a messy maelstrom of outrageous outfits, flashy visuals, dumb expressions, stupid jokes and more celebrity cameos than your mind can reasonably comprehend. At least the similarly overcrowded Absolutely Fabulous never got to the point where they needed to write the names of the famous people on screen to tip off the audience!
It’s not high art – in fact most of it is as eye-rollingly embarrassing as Kristin Ghostbusters Wiig’s near incomprehensible foreign accent – but the game cast and even-gamer cameoists (Justin Bieber, Kiefer Sutherland and Benedict Cumberbatch in particular don’t mind putting their pride to one side) just about save this from being a stinky No. 2 of a catwalk catastrophe – it’s just a shame so much of it is recycled from last season and should have been left on the hanger.
CR@B’s Claw Score:
15 – 92mins – 2016
Now in their mid-20s, the bros of Delta Psi Beta have grown up, carving out successful careers and happy relationships. All, that is, except for former frat leader Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), who feels lost and lonely in the “adult” world. Coasting in a retail job and kicked out of his recently-engaged best friend’s spare room, Teddy is drawn back to the lifestyle in which he excelled: agreeing to mentor a newly established sorority of alternative, free-spirited sisters who just so happen to have rented the house next to Teddy’s old adversaries, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne).
With 2014’s Bad Neighbours grossing a remarkable $270million from a modest $18million budget, a sequel was inevitable. And here returning director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and The Night Before team stick to the age old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Because Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (as it is titled in the US) not only repeats the very same ‘family versus frat’ plot, it also mines the same jokes and story beats from two years ago.
So we get more of Seth Rogen’s stoner humour (because all conscientious young fathers have a lounge littered with glass bongs), more outrageously inconsiderate party antics which every other house on the block seemingly has no objection to, more over-egged generation gap ribbing, more gratuitous opportunities to ogle Zac Efron’s abs and more awkward talky sex scenes between the “old couple” who really aren’t that old or out of touch at all.
Likeable Teddy’s implementation into the ‘battle’ is the only nifty touch, because everybody knows a college hot shot who peaked too soon, even if his initial antagonism toward Mac and Kelly feels a little out of place given the resolution scene at the end of the first film.
While there is a worthy message in Shelby’s (Chloë Grace Moretz) Kappa Kappa Nu plot about breaking from stringent (possibly even sexist?) rules and traditions and finding yourself at college, it’s a shame that any grand life lesson is sabotaged by the clichéd route in which the film reaches it. Namely: via weed, booze, flaunting your body and destroying furniture.
But then platitudes are hardly surprising in a film so desperate to replicate a winning formula that it goes to the effort of making “mama” Kelly pregnant again for no discernible plot reason than to give Mac and his wife more ammunition to be peeved at teenagers being teenagers. You won’t sit stony-faced throughout – there are some bad taste belly laughs to be had from Bad Neighbours 2 – it’s just a shame you’ve seen it all before – oily pecs and all.