Derek Zoolander: Really Really Really Ridiculously Good Looking™
For the last decade, male modelling has been dominated by one name, and five syllables: Der! Ek! Zoo! Lan! DER!
Derek Zoolander is a really, really, ridiculously good-looking (but incredibly shallow and not too bright) male model who suffers both a professional and personal setback when he loses the Male Model of the Year crown to Hansel ("he's so hot right now") and his friends to a freak gasoline fight accident. His manager sends him to a week-long day spa, but it turns out to be a brainwashing center, where Derek becomes a sleeper agent programmed to assassinate the prime minister of Malaysia (an obstacle to the fashion industry's continued use of cheap Malaysian labor). It's up to Derek, his love interest Matilda, and his rival-turned-friend Hansel ("he's so hot right now") to foil this plot and help Derek live past thirty.A sequel is in the works, but Stiller put it on hold because he wanted to make the script "feel more current".
This film has examples of:
Adam Westing: A number of real-life celebrities make cameo appearances in the film. The one who plays the most on his image is probably Fabio, who appears at the beginning of the film, accepting the "slashie" award for "best model slash actor" and "not the other way around". Fabio-esque male models are the main brunt on the film's satire.
Answer Cut: When Mugatu is told in the opening scene that he needs to find someone dim enough to be brainwashed into the assassination plot:
Mugatu: But who?! Where in all of God's green goodness am I gonna find someone that....BEEF-HEADED?!
Big "NO!": Derek's reaction (actually a "Brint!") when he realizes his friends are about to get burned to death by a carelessly lit cigarette.
Brainless Beauty: Male models (although according to David Duchovny's character, hand models "work differently"). Also, Fabio is apparently too smart for the job that Mugatu brainwashed Derek to do.
Brick Joke: "Derek, you did it!" "I know, I turned left!"
Buffy Speak: The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.
The Cameo: Lots, from the celebrities at the fashion show in the opening part of the film to Billy Zane's memetic role to David Bowie as the walkoff judge, and lots more where that came from. Also includes James Marsden in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot as John Wilkes Booth during the assassination exposition.
Hansel: "And I felt like this guy is really hurting me. And it hurt!"
Derek: Maybe you don't understand that the world doesn't revolve around you and your 'Do whatever it takes, ruin as many people's lives, just so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends you lose, or people you leave dead and bloodied along the way, just so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends you lose, or people you leave dead and bloodied and dying along the way?'
Historical Rap Sheet: Brainwashed male models set in motion by an evil council of fashion designers have had a hand in every major assassination attempt, beginning with Lincoln and on up through JFK. It Makes Sense in Context. Kind of.
Derek: Or are you here to tell me what a bad eugoogolizer I am? Matilda: A what? Derek: A eugoogolizer... one who speaks at funerals. [after a confused look from Matilda] Or did you think I was too stupid to know what a eugoogoly was?
However, some suspect Derek is a parody of Tom Cruise.
Not so Above It All: Matilda is the Only Sane Man in the main cast, until she participates in an orgy. Even more so when she goes on a long description of her clothing while holding Katinka at gunpoint in retaliation for her insulting her fashion sense earlier.
In a deleted scene, Derek enters the club where Hansel is having an afterparty, passing something like six or seven groups of people just to throw a lame one-liner back at Hansel for an earlier insult. (Part of this scene ends up in the Imagine Spot when the hand model discusses why male models make the perfect assassins.)
Outdated Outfit: Mugatu's "Little Cletus" disguise is of what a child in the early 1900s would probably wear. Ironic, considering Mugatu should be keeping up with the latest fashions. Then again, he does seem to be the world's premiere fashion designer. If he can sell trash as fashion then he can get away with Little Cletus.
Phrase Catcher: Hansel. "He's so hot right now." In particular from Mugatu.
Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When introducing Derek as a nominee for Model of the Year, the announcer guy enunciates each syllable separately (see page quote). Each syllable also comes from a different speaker. Derek silently counts along to make sure that his name is indeed five syllables.
Refuge in Audacity: Mugatu's new line that does a high fashion spin on what homeless people wear. Amusingly, it has been done for real by John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood, but the style was intended to be shocking.
Running Gag: Every time someone mentions Hansel, Mugatu immediately adds some variation of "He's so hot right now."
Scale Model Destruction: Mugatu shows off a model of a school he's planning to build in Derek Zoolander's honor. Derek gets ticked and destroys it, because he doesn't understand the concept of a model.
Derek Zoolander: What is this, a center for ants? How can the children learn anything if they can't fit in the building?!.
Hansel: So I'm rappelling down Mount Vesuvius when suddenly I slip, and I start to fall. I mean, I'm about to die. Just falling, "Ahhh! Ahhh!" I'll never forget the terror. When suddenly I remember, "Holy shit, Hansel, haven't you been smoking Peyote for six straight days, and couldn't some of this maybe be in your mind?"
Hansel: ...it was. I was totally fine. I've never even been to Mount Vesuvius.
Soundtrack Dissonance: A minor case when Derek and his roommates try to forget their troubles, as "Wake Me up before You Go-Go" plays (it contains a reference to a yo-yo, which is rival Hansel's thing).
"Todd! Were you not aware that I get farty and bloated with a foamy latte?!"
Technology Marches On: Derek's tiny cell phone was a hilarious reveal meant to display how privileged he was (this being 2001 before having a cell phone was highly commonplace), but by today's standards, it looks extremely out of date and low grade despite being still ridiculously tiny, largely because it failed to anticipate that the advent of smart phones would stop dead the trend they were exaggerating.
"Who cares about Derek Zoolander anyway? The man has only one look for Christ's sake! Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigre? They're the same face! Doesn't anyone notice this?! I feel like I'm taking crazy pills! I invented the piano key necktie! I invented it! What have you done, Derek?! Nothing! You've got nothing! NOTHING!"