Zoolander was released 15 years ago today (September 28). If you look back on the fashion-world satire now, it’s a who’s who of comedy talent – Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell absolutely dominated ’00s films – but it’s also got loads of cameos, with everyone from Natalie Portman to David Bowie taking part (and, unfortunately, Donald Trump). Zoolander’s signature look was Blue Steel, but he’s so much more than that – as these 15 brilliantly quotable moments prove.
1. The Derek Zoolander Centre for Kids Who Can’t Read Good
“What is this – a school for ants?” It’s one of the most memorable lines in Zoolander – and like so many of Ben Stiller’s lines as Zoolander, it relies on the model’s supreme lack of intelligence. Here he’s examining a scaled-down model of the school he wants to build along with fashion mogul Mugatu, but as he notes, it’s just not big enough…
2. “I’m not an ambiturner”
One of Zoolander’s biggest triumphs in the first film is the first time he turns left. But his explanation of the affliction to journalist Matilda is definitely the better scene…
3. Orange Mocha Frappuccino
Poor, stupid models. Here, his roommates are trying to cheer up Derek after he’s lost out to rival Hansel (Owen Wilson). They go to get a pick-me-up Orange Mocha Frappuccino, which ends with an explosive petrol fight tragedy.
4. “That Hansel’s so hot right now”
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It’s Will Ferrell’s phrasing – the repetition of Hansel’s name – that makes this line a gem.
The legend did a cameo as himself in the film, in which he suddenly turned up to judge Zoolander and Hansel’s walk-off. ‘Let’s Dance’ serves as his introductory music, because of course it does.
6. The Walk-Off
…and the walk-off itself. Derek tries to match up to his rival Hansel and does a massive wedgie on himself. His pained groan is everything.
7. “Really really really ridiculously good-looking”
Makes point about possibility of deeper levels to existence; pouts. A flawless few seconds of the film.
8. The black lung
“I think I’m getting the black lung,” Zoolander tells his folks after working in the coal mines for a day. He’s moved back home following the deaths of his roommates and his retirement from modeling – but obviously that doesn’t last long.
9. The awards fail
This is at the start of the film, and sets the tone for both Zoolander’s stupidity and his most tragic aspects. Assuming he’s won the award for best male model, he goes up to the stage and begins making a speech – while the real winner, Hansel, stands behind him. Embarro.
10. “Who am I?”
Straight after that fail, Zoolander goes out on the street and does a Mulan-style reflection scene, using a puddle as a mirror. Someone drives by and splashes the dirty water all over his face, then Owen Wilson’s Hansel hurls abuse at him.
11. Foamy latte
Will Ferrell’s Mugatu is a horrible epitome of rich, capricious fashion execs. As exemplified by this.
12. Finding the files
A surprise 2001: A Space Odyssey reference embedded in the film. Zoolander and Hansel, having teamed up at this point are looking for files, which are in this scene’s computer, but this level of technology is too complex for them, and they end up smashing the screen in.
13. “Did my pin get in the way of your ass?”
Another of Mugatu’s awful moments. You can imagine it actually happening though.
14. “Moisture is the essence of wetness”
This is the embarrassing, career-low advert that plays on TV when Zoolander’s at home working in the mines. His little smile as it comes on; his realisation that everyone thinks he’s a joke. It’s tragic, but it’s also very lol.
15. Crazy pills
Will Ferrell losing his shit is a classic Ferrell-movie trope, but it’s rarely as satisfying as this.