Directed by Ben Stiller
Produced by
Written by
Music by
Cinematography Barry Peterson
Editing by Greg Hayden
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) September 28, 2001 (2001-09-28)
Running time 89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28 million
Box office $60,780,981

Zoolander is a 2001 American satirical comedy film directed by and starring Ben Stiller. The film contains elements from a pair of short films directed by Russell Bates and written by Drake Sather and Stiller for the VH1 Fashion Awards television specials in 1996 and 1997. The short films and the movie feature Derek Elijah Zoolander, a dimwitted male model played by Ben Stiller. The film involves Zoolander becoming a pawn in a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia by corrupt fashion executives.



The dim-witted but good-natured Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is ousted as the top male fashion model by the rising star, Hansel (Owen Wilson), and his reputation is further tarnished by a critical article from journalist Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor). After his fellow male model colleagues are killed in a "freak gasoline-fight accident", Derek announces his retirement from modeling and attempts to reconnect with his father Larry (Jon Voight) and brothers by helping in the coal mines. Derek's delicate methods make him an impractical miner, and his family rejects him.

Meanwhile, fashion mogul Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell), and model agent Maury Ballstein (Jerry Stiller) are charged by the fashion industry to find a model that can be brainwashed to assassinate the new progressive-leaning Prime Minister of Malaysia, allowing them to retain cheap child labor in the country. Though Mugatu has previously refused to work with Derek for any show, Derek accepts Mugatu's offer to star in the next runway show. Mugatu takes Derek to his headquarters, masked as a day spa, where Derek is conditioned to attempt the assassination when the song "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood is played. Matilda, who felt partially responsible for Derek's retirement, is suspicious of Mugatu's offer, and tipped off by an anonymous caller, tries to enter the spa, but is thrown out. Matilda tries to voice her concerns to Derek once he leaves, but he ignores her.

Matilda follows Derek to a pre-runway show, where he loses to Hansel in a "walk-off" judged by David Bowie. Matilda receives another anonymous call to meet at a nearby cemetery. Matilda along with Derek find the anonymous caller is hand model J.P. Prewett (David Duchovny), who explains that the fashion industry has been behind several political assassinations, and the brainwashed models are soon killed after they have completed their task. Before J.P. can explain more, Katinka (Milla Jovovich), Mugatu's chief henchwoman, and her aides attack the group, forcing Derek and Matilda to flee. They decide to go to Hansel's home, the last place they believe Mugatu will think to look, and Derek and Hansel resolve their differences while partaking of Hansel's collection of narcotics. While recovering, Derek also finds that he is falling in love with Matilda. Derek and Hansel break into Maury's offices to find evidence of the assassination plot, but cannot operate his computer to find them. Derek leaves for the show, Hansel following later with the computer in hand, believing that, as told to him by Matilda "the files are inside the computer".

Matilda tries to intercept Derek before the show, but Katinka thwarts her attempt. As Derek takes the runway, Mugatu's disc jockey starts playing "Relax", activating Derek's mental programming. Before Derek can reach the Prime Minister, Hansel breaks into the DJ booth, and switches the music to Herbie Hancock's "Rockit", breaking Derek's conditioning. Hansel and the DJ have a brief fight before Hansel eventually unplugs the system, moments before Derek was about to snap the Prime Minister's neck. Mugatu attempts to cover up the incident, but Hansel offers Maury's computer as evidence, smashing it to the ground which he believes would release the incriminating files. Though the evidence is destroyed, Maury steps forward and reveals he had backed up the files, and offers to turn over the evidence of the assassination plot after years of guilt for his complicity in the conspiracy. Mugatu attempts to kill the Prime Minister himself, but Derek stops him by unleashing his ultimate model look, "Magnum", that stuns everyone. Mugatu is arrested, and Derek is thanked by the Prime Minister. At Derek's hometown, Larry proudly acknowledges his son's achievement.

In the film's dénouement, Derek, Hansel, and Maury have left the fashion industry to start "The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too". Derek and Matilda are shown as now having a son named Derek Zoolander, Jr., who has already developed his first modeling look.


"Derelicte" is the name given to the fashion line designed by Will Ferrell's character Mugatu. It is described by Mugatu in the film as "a fashion, a way of life inspired by the very homeless, the vagrants, the crack whores that make this wonderful city so unique." The fashion line consists of clothing made from everyday objects that could be found on the streets of New York. Derelicte is a parody of a real fashion line created by John Galliano in 2000.[1]



The film was never shown in Malaysia, the country mentioned in the film, as it is depicted as impoverished and dependent on sweatshops. Malaysia's censorship board deemed it "definitely unsuitable".[2] The film was also banned in neighboring Singapore[3] due to bilateral sensitivities and the movie's excessive drug use.[citation needed] It was subsequently made available in Singapore in 2006,[4] with the R rating. In the U.S., the film was originally rated R but was later re-rated PG-13 on appeal for sexual content, profanity, and drug references.

In the Asian release, all references to the country of Malaysia were changed to Micronesia, the country Hansel mistook Malaysia for at one point in the western version.


The movie's box office was hurt[citation needed] by the fact that it opened two weekends after the September 11, 2001 attacks; it was among the first comedy films after the attacks to enter theaters. In fact, the very first television footage of the attacks, which was shown on Fox 5 - WNYW, interrupted a commercial for the film.[5]

Despite its lackluster initial box office performance, the film developed a loyal cult following and solid DVD sales.[citation needed] It is often shown on Comedy Central and other cable channels.

The film was a moderate critical success, scoring a borderline "Fresh" 64% on Rotten Tomatoes.


The soundtrack to the motion picture was released by Hollywood Records in 2001.

Track listing

  1. "Start the Commotion [radio edit] [feat. Greg Nice]" - The Wiseguys
  2. "Relax" - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
  3. "Call Me" - Nikka Costa
  4. "Love to Love You Baby" - No Doubt
  5. "I Started a Joke" - The Wallflowers
  6. "He Ain't Heavy... He's My Brother" - Rufus Wainwright
  7. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" - Wham!
  8. "Rockit" - Herbie Hancock
  9. "Beat It [Moby's Sub mix]" - Michael Jackson
  10. "Madskillz-Mic Chekka [remix]" - BT
  11. "Faces" - Orgy
  12. "Ruffneck [feat. Navigator]" - Freestylers
  13. "Now is the Time" - The Crystal Method
  14. "Relax [feat. Danny Boy]" - Powerman 5000

Accusations of plagiarism

In 2005, Bret Easton Ellis stated that he was aware of the similarities between Zoolander and the Ellis novel Glamorama, and said that he considered and attempted to take legal action.[6] Ellis was later asked about the similarities in a BBC interview, but said that he is unable to discuss the similarities due to an out-of-court settlement.[7]


In December 2008, according to media reports Ben Stiller did confirm that he intends to make a sequel to this movie, currently called Zoolander 2 which is presumably only a working title at this early stage.[8] When interviewed on the May 15, 2009, episode of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Stiller said that he was looking at a number of scripts.[9] It was reported by various sources that Iron Man 2 writer Justin Theroux, who also co-wrote Tropic Thunder with Stiller, is set to write and direct the sequel. As of March 2, 2010 Ben Stiller has confirmed he is writing Zoolander 2, stating, "We're in the process of getting a script written, so it's in the early stages. But yeah, it's going to happen."[10]

On a December 2010 episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Owen Wilson stated that a second Zoolander will most likely get made[11] with a working title Twolander.[12]

In January 2011, Ben Stiller confirmed that the script has been completed though confirmation of the film depends on the studios.[13] Stiller commented on the plot of the sequel,

It’s ten years later and most of it is set in Europe... it’s basically Derek and Hansel... though the last movie ended on a happy note a lot of things have happened in the meantime. Their lives have changed and they’re not really relevant anymore. It’s a new world for them. Will Ferrell is written into the script and he’s expressed interest in doing it. I think Mugatu is an integral part of the Zoolander story, so yes, he features in a big way.”

Stiller resumed his role as Zoolander on Saturday Night Live while hosting on October 8, 2011.


  1. ^ "Political Threads". On The Media. 2008-02-01. http://onthemedia.org/transcripts/2008/02/01/08. 
  2. ^ "Zoolander faces Malaysian censorship controversy". Guardian Unlimited. 28 September 2001. http://film.guardian.co.uk/censorship/news/0,11729,661800,00.html. 
  3. ^ "Singapore bans US comedy film". BBC News. 8 February 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/1809357.stm. 
  4. ^ "Release dates for Zoolander (2001)". IMDB. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0196229/releaseinfo. 
  5. ^ "9/11 WNYW Coverage 8:48 - 8:55". YouTube. 2008-11-16. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILPhOg4pl5A&feature=related. Retrieved 2009-07-21 - dead link 02-02-2011. 
  6. ^ "Information Leafblower". Information Leafblower. http://www.informationleafblower.com/blog/archives/2005/09/the_better_you_1.html. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  7. ^ "collective — bret easton ellis interview". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/collective/A6127427. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  8. ^ http://www.imdb.com/news/ni0618008/
  9. ^ Stiller, Ben. Television interview with Jonathan Ross. Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. May 15, 2009.
  10. ^ "Stiller Talks Zoolander 2 | Movie News | Empire". Empireonline.com. http://www.empireonline.com/News/story.asp?nid=27164. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  11. ^ "Owen Wilson Says Zoolander 2 Will Likely Go Into Production Soon". CinemaBlend.com. 2010-12-12. http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Owen-Wilson-Says-Zoolander-2-Will-Likely-Go-Into-Production-Soon-22169.html. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  12. ^ http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/owen-wilson-3/1265768/
  13. ^ "Ben Stiller Talks Submarine | Movie News | Empire". Empireonline.com. http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=29894. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 

External links

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