Zoolander (2001)

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Released 14-May-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Egypt
Audio Commentary-Ben Stiller (Act), Drake Sather (Writ) & John Hamburg (Writ)
Deleted Scenes-10 +/- Ben Stiller commentary
Outtakes
Featurette-VH1 Fashion Awards Skits (2)
Music Video-Start The Commotion-The Wiseguys
Featurette-Public Service Announcements (6)
Featurette-MTV
Featurette-Interstitials (6)
Gallery-3
Easter Egg
Alternate Ending
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 85:29 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ben Stiller
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ben Stiller
Owen Wilson
Christine Taylor
Will Ferrell
Jerry Stiller
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music David Arnold


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    There are two real problems with films that have their genesis as a skit. One problem is that the joke often wears out after about fifteen minutes and despite repeated attempts is just not funny after an hour. The second problem is that the actual plot is often secondary to the sight gags, which alone do not make for much of a story. I found that this was pretty much the case with the other Ben Stiller comedies of a similar ilk like Meet the Parents and There's Something About Mary. I therefore did not hold high expectations of Zoolander, especially knowing that it had its beginnings as a couple of skits on the VH1 Fashion Awards Show.

    Ben Stiller stars as Derek Zoolander, a male model that has been at the top of the pile of male model for several years and has won the Male Model Of The Year Award three years running. Like all (well in true archetypal style anyway) male models, he's none too bright, but is about as vain as they come and has his looks to succeed in the industry. Attending this year's Fashion Awards, where he expects to collect his fourth straight title he is upstaged by new model of the moment, Hansel (Owen Wilson). The two engage in a sort of battle of model one-upmanship culminating in a 'cat walk-off' which provides some of the funnier moments in the film. Now funnily enough, this plotline isn't the main crux of the story. The main story revolves around a ruthless fashion designer, Mugatu, played by Will Ferrell in a glorious case of hamming it up. He is hatching a plan to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia. It seems the Prime Minister is making moves to stop the use of cheap labour in his country, a move that Mugatu and the other fashion industry kingpins oppose strongly. He concocts a plan to assassinate the Prime Minister during the launch of his new fashion label. He decides he needs to procure a dim-witted idiot that he can brainwash into carrying out the assassination for him (sort of like The Manchurian Candidate I guess). Derek Zoolander is the obvious choice and is kidnapped and suitably brainwashed. In the meantime, a nosy Time magazine reporter named Matilda (Ben Stiller's real-life wife Christine Taylor) takes an interest in Mugatu and his seemingly corrupt power in the fashion industry and begins to snoop around, all the while falling for the glamorous Derek. Now if all this sounds a bit silly, well it is. As usual the story and main plot line takes a back seat to the various sight gags and jokes. Most of these revolve around the battle between Zoolander and Hansel which sort of fizzle out around the half-way mark of the film after the lads become good buddies.

    Still, there are some truly funny moments, with the highlights being the 'cat-walk off', whereby Derek and Hansel strut down the cat walk, trying to outdo each other's more wild and ambitious moves. The other highlight to look out for is the 2001 A Space Odyssey rip-off scene (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) where Derek and Hansel take on the mannerisms of chimps when they encounter an Apple IMac that is completely beyond their comprehension.

    A whole swag of big names get a cameo role in this film. Most were filmed as part of the scene that took place at the real VH1 Fashion Awards Show and appear as interview-style segments in the lead-up to the awards. We get to see cameos by luminaries such as Donatella Versace, Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Natalie Portman, Donald Trump, Lenny Kravitz and Tommy Hilfiger, amongst others. There are other cameo roles by Billy Zane and David Bowie during some of the funnier scenes in the film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    While not much cash was thrown at the plot development, it was certainly poured into ensuring there were high production values, as this is certainly one slick film and in turn is a very nice looking transfer. In fact it is so nice, I have not been able to report a single problem.

    An aspect ratio of 2.35:1 greets us. It is 16x9 enhanced..

    The transfer is nicely detailed with sharp and highly defined images throughout. There are some shadow detail limitations in the early scenes, but these are intentional. Otherwise, we are greeted with clear images and no problems with grain or low level noise.

    Colours, in particular those of the fashions and the models are all-important to the story, and this transfer does not disappoint. There are a myriad of shades on offer, with no problems to report in terms of bleeding or oversaturation.

    There are no MPEG artefact problems. Aliasing or shimmer is virtually non-existent and there are only a handful of the smallest film artefacts that are by no means disruptive.

    Interestingly there are only one set of subtitles, these being naturally enough English. I played these right through while listening to the commentary track and found them to be nicely accurate.

    This disc features RSDL formatting with the layer change occurring at 68:13. While not on a fade to black scene change, it is still one of the best layer changes that I have ever seen and is barely perceptible. There is an extreme close-up of Derek Zoolander's face and since the audio is silent and Derek is barely moving at the time, picking this one is quite a challenge.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three English audio tracks on this disc. There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, and a Dolby Digital 2.0 Commentary track. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track and the commentary track.

    There is some nice use of panning effects across the front speakers, especially the score and associated music during the fashion shows and the 'walk-off' scene. The dialogue is clear and very prominent in the soundtrack with no audio sync problems. A real modern soundtrack in all respects that will not disappoint.

    Some real funky music is laced throughout the soundtrack. Artists such as Wham and Frankie Goes To Hollywood (their signature track Relax is sort of fundamental to the plot) grace the soundtrack.

   There is some decent surround use throughout, though it does not draw much attention to itself and wouldn't be really missed if it wasn't there to tell you the truth.

    The sub sees a little action. There's a couple of minor explosions early on that see it light up. Otherwise, it is there to support the soundtrack which it does very nicely indeed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A whole swag of extras adorn this disc, though strangely there is no theatrical trailer.

Menu Animation & Audio

Dolby Digital Trailer - Egypt

    Strangely though, my amplifier picked this up as only being a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track and not a full Dolby Digital 5.1.

Audio Commentary

    A screen-specific commentary track provided by Ben Stiller, and scriptwriters Drake Sather and John Hamburg. There are virtually no silent moments in this track, with all three in the same room watching the film as they record it. With the three covering the star, director, and writer roles there is a lot of scope for this commentary and they provide quite a bit of technical, story development, script, setup, casting, and anecdotal information without resorting to the 'this is what's happening on the screen at the moment' problem. Worth a listen, if only to hear the difference in Ben Stiller's real voice from the faux model-snob accent he uses during the film.

Deleted Scenes

    With optional commentary track provided by Ben Stiller, these are a series of five deleted scenes and five extended scenes that are all presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with no 16x9 enhancement and a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. They range from brief 25 second grabs through to over 4 minutes.

Outtakes

    Presented as one chunk running for 6:36 minutes, these are the usual blooper-style outtakes taken from all parts of the film.

Featurette - VH1 Fashion Awards Skits

    These are the two skits that provided the inspiration for the film. Made in 1996 and 1997 for the VH1 Fashion Awards Show, they show that some of the jokes and ideas presented there actually made it into the film. They run for 2:47 and 3:55 minutes respectively and are both presented full screen.

Music Video - Start The Commotion

    Performed by The Wiseguys and presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. Total running time is 2:46 minutes.

Featurette - Public Service Announcements

    A series of trailers that are disguised as Public Service Announcements. They feature Derek Zoolander briefly giving his opinions on Racism, Literacy, Education, and Globalisation among others. Different is how I would describe them. They each run for around 20 seconds and are presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 with no 16x9 enhancement.

Featurette - MTV Cribs

    Three almost trailer style shorts made for MTV. These are presented full screen and run for around 33 seconds each.

Featurette - Interstitials

    OK I have to admit I had no idea at all just what an Interstitial was until I looked it up in the dictionary. Apparently an interstitial is something that fills a space. These are virtually mini trailers or I guess space-fillers, running for between 20 and 30 seconds each. There are six in total, featuring Derek/Ben talking to each other, and Matilda, Magatu, and Derek in solo spots. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.

Gallery

    Three galleries that have 16x9 enhanced photos from Derek Zoolander's and Hansel's personal portfolios and a series of behind-the-scenes production photos. Nicely done, in a decent size and resolution with good navigation.

Easter Egg

    On the second extras menu scroll through the menu options using the right arrow key instead of the up and down arrows. This will highlight the large M in the centre of the selections. Selecting OK will take you to a small featurette showing Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson doing catwalk rehearsals. There is a commentary to this vision provided by Ben Stiller. Total running time is 2:46 minutes.

Alternate Ending

    Not so much an alternate ending but rather an alternate end title sequence. The end credits here appear with highlights and a dance sequence rather than the plain text of the normal credits. Total running time is 2:16 minutes.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Apart from the inclusion of a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, the Region 1 disc is identical to the local disc. A draw, but the local disc is the winner on PAL formatting and price considerations.

Summary

    I know you are not supposed to take this genre of films too seriously and I tried very hard not to in order to provide an objective review. The production values of this film are extremely high and it is worth a look just to see the nice transfer and funky music that is played throughout. The story is exactly what I expected and takes a real backseat to the various sight gags. Some are quite funny, others quite lame. A rental certainly, but not one I could watch too often.

    The video transfer that has been afforded this title is first class and top shelf. There is not a single fault.

    The audio is also excellent and without fault, though it will not stretch your system too far.

    The extras are plentiful, of decent quality and are well-presented. Not much more you can ask for there.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, May 13, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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