From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Zoolander is a 2001 comedy film directed by Ben Stiller. The film is based on 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 Zoolander, a dimwitted male model. The title role is played by Ben Stiller, and in the feature film (which Stiller directed), Zoolander's agent, Maury Ballstein, is played by Stiller's father Jerry Stiller. It was banned and never released in Malaysia.
Fashion mogul Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) is charged by the fashion industry to find a male fashion model who can be brainwashed in order to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia at an upcoming fashion show in order to retain cheap child labor in that country. Mugatu, with help from model agent Maury Ballstein (Jerry Stiller), selects for the task the dimwitted Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), formerly the top male fashion model in the world but displaced by the up-and-coming Hansel (Owen Wilson) at the latest VH1 Fashion Awards. After losing his fellow male models in a "freak gasoline-fight accident," Derek returns home to his father Spencer (Jon Voight) and tries to work alongside him in the coal mines, but is rejected by his family and returns to New York City. Mugatu offers Derek a role in the upcoming "Derelicte" fashion show, and through the guise of a spa treatment, brainwashes Zoolander so that he will attack and kill the Prime Minister when Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax" is played.
Journalist Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor), who wrote an article in Time on Derek after his loss to Hansel, becomes concerned for Derek due to the impact of the article, and starts following him, tracking him to a "walk-off" against Hansel being judged by David Bowie. Derek and Matilda learn from former superstar hand model J.P. Prewett (David Duchovny) of the fashion industry's influence on political events such as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy and that Derek's life is in danger as the models are killed shortly after they complete their task. They are attacked by Mugatu's henchwoman, Katinka Ingabogovinana (Milla Jovovich), and her aides, and find safety at the home of Hansel, who offers to help when he hears of the conspiracy. Derek and Hansel break into Maury's office to find corroborating files they believe to be physically inside his iMac computer, but Derek leaves in order to make it to the fashion show on time.
At the show, Mugatu's discjockey (Justin Theroux), starts playing "Relax" as Derek takes the runway, and the mental programming takes effect. Hansel breaks into the discjockey's booth and switches the music to Herbie HancockTemplate:'s "Rockit", breaking Derek's conditioning. Hansel and the discjockey begin "breakdance fighting", switching the music back and forth and bringing Derek closer to the Prime Minister, but ultimately Hansel unplugs the music system before the Prime Minister is harmed. Hansel offers Maury's computer as proof of the conspiracy but smashes it apart in an effort to show the critical files; however Maury publicly admits to the whole conspiracy. In the ensuing chaos, Mugatu attempts to kill the Prime Minister himself with a throwing star, but Derek throws himself into its path, turns left and releases his ultimate look, "Magnum", stopping the weapon.
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 Who Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too", while Derek and Matilda have wed and had a son who has already developed his first modeling look.