Zoolander 2 opens today to little excitement or fanfare. The reviews are in and it doesn’t look good for the Ben Stiller sequel, currently sitting at just 21% on rottentomatoes. After watching the trailers, I can’t say I’m surprised. Zoolander 2 isn’t unique though. Comedy sequels, in general, typically aren’t very good.
Last summer we wrote about the struggles of comedy sequels after the release of Ted 2. The first Ted was a huge hit, grossing over $215 million, but the sequel didn’t even break $100 million. People didn’t choose to not see Ted 2 for no reason. It just wasn’t nearly as good as the first one. But why does this seem to be the case for so many comedy sequels?
Let’s look back at some of these awful comedy sequels we wrote about earlier. What made them so bad and could those reasons explain why the reviews aren’t too good for Zoolander 2. The comedy sequels we’ll look further into are the Dumb and Dumber sequels, The Hangover sequels, Caddyshack 2, Meet the Fockers, and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.
The first Dumb and Dumber sequel, Dumb and Dumberer, featured an entirely new cast. Caddyshack 2 had the same problem. Chevy Chase was the only returning cast member in what amounted to a glorified cameo that Chase would publicly regret. Without Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray, it’s no surprise Caddyshack 2 was no good. Does this apply to Zoolander 2? No, Stiller and Owen Wilson are back in starring roles and even Will Ferrell, who’s a much bigger star since the first movie, is back as the villain Mugatu. The cast isn’t the problem.
Deuce Bigalow was a terrible movie so no one was shocked about the failure of its sequel. Zoolander isn’t considered a comedy classic but it’s still well regarded so that’s not the problem either.
What about Meet the Fockers. That movie was a piece of shit but Meet the Parents was pretty great and the whole cast came back. But the Meet the _____ series starred Ben Stiller who just happens to also be the star (and writer/director) of Zoolander 2. Is Stiller the problem?
Dumb and Dumber To was a massive disappointment. After years of waiting for a sequel to come, we finally got it and it sucked. Did they wait too long? Well, believe it or not, Zoolander came out almost 15 years ago. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to wait so long to make a comedy sequel.
The Hangover sequels got a lot of criticism for being too much like the first movie. Just because fans want a sequel, it doesn’t mean they want to see the same plot and same jokes over again. So what’s the plot of Zoolander 2? The male models have to stop an assassination plot. That’s the same as the first.
So Zoolander 2 isn’t good because of the recycled plot, the long time between movies, and the existence of Ben Stiller. Have we solved it? Can we now get good comedy sequels? Probably not.