I’m still relieved that Ben Stiller retained the original cast—even Christine Taylor, whose character (Matilda Jeffries) is dead in the sequel. The additions that are included in Zoolander No. 2, most notably Kristin Wiig and Penelope Cruz, were hysterical but not perfect fits. Wiig’s big laugh was her nearly incomprehensible accent/speech impediment, but it wavered. The joke was inconsistent because at times she would lose the accent, and that came off as an irritating lack of focus. Cruz's character, Valencia, took herself too seriously. Cruz herself acted well, but her character did not have any of the awkward quirks that Zoolander characters typically have. Even Matilda Jeffries was laughable in the first film. Simply put, Valencia was too perfect of a character for the Zoolander movies. She was too suave, too smart, too sexy--her only "flaw" was that her breasts were too large for her to be a runway model. Cruz pulled that joke off well, but it wasn't self-deprecating enough for her character to fit in with the rest of the ensemble.
Otherwise, the humor in this movie was well done. Zoolander No. 2 took buzzwords from popular culture and adapted them to the slapstick sense of humor characterizing the first film. Characters mentioned "farm-to-table" wifi, repurposed human waste, intentionally tasteless tattoos, and hashtags. The film mocks not only fashion, but everything that contemporary society has become (even though the hashtag joke is over-done at this point). I especially enjoyed the ongoing ridicule of the contemporary habit of dismissing everything as uncool or mainstream, even if they like it.
Of course, Zoolander No. 2 also spends a substantial amount of time poking fun at the fashion industry, but it does so in a different way than the first movie did. Zoolander No. 2 adjusts its quips to fit in with the current state of fashion, pointing out the fickleness of the industry in the process. The movie suggests that the fashion industry is killing itself, and at the end brings in some of the most famous modern fashion designers and mocks them to their faces.
Zoolander No. 2 is a fun movie. There are enough references to the first movie (i.e., the orgy scene) to please fans, but this sequel does not pretend to be the first movie. Expect some great laughs and plenty of satire about popular culture, but don't take it too seriously. It's Zoolander, not Casablanca.