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  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) 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 tragic gasoline-fight accident. His manager sends him to a 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.

As of an announcement on March 2, 2010, a sequel is being written.

This film has examples of:

 "Damn it Derek, I'm a coal miner, not a professional film or television actor."

 Matilda: Wait a minute, Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't a male model.

Prewett: You're goddamn right he wasn't, but those two lookers on the Grassy Knoll sure as shit were!

 Matilda: Derek, you did it!

Derek: I know! I turned left!

Matilda: (beat) That too, but you also saved the Prime Minister of Malaysia!

Derek: Oh. Cool.

  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?'

 Derek: There was a moment last night, when she was sandwiched between the two Finnish dwarfs and the Maori tribesmen, where I thought, "Wow, I could really spend the rest of my life with this woman."

 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?

  "He only has one look! [...] Does nobody else notice? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!"

    • Matilda fits this role much better however.
  • Only Six Faces: All of Derek's so-called "looks" are almost identical. (However, his "Magnum" look stops a shuriken in mid-air. Even Mugatu is wowed: "Dear god, it's beautiful!")
    • There is a difference between Magnum and all the rest: he turns left before delivering it.
      • Less mindblowing-ly, his head is also vertical, as opposed to the angle his other looks were at.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The round table running the fashion industry.
  • Overly Long Gag: The participants during the orgy scene.
    • In a deleted scene, Derek enters the club where Hansel is having an after-party, 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 1900's would probably wear. Ironic, considering Mugatu should be keeping up with the latest fashions.
    • Maury says that he can take any piece of crap polish it a little and sell it to a queen, so maybe Mugatu decides what is hot and what is not?
  • A Party - Also Known as an Orgy
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Derek is not an ambiturner. He can't turn left.
  • 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). Derek silently counts along to make sure that his name is indeed five syllables.
  • Real Life Relative: Christine Taylor, who played Matilda, is Ben Stiller's wife.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The whole movie, pretty much, but the ones that definitely stand out are the assassination plot and Mugatu's new line that does a high fashion spin on what homeless people wear.
  • Running Gag: Every time someone mentions Hansel, Mugatu immediately adds "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 school 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?"

Derek: ...and?

Hansel: was. I was totally fine. I've never even been to Mount Vesuvius.

  "Todd! Were you not aware that I get farty and bloated with a foamy latte?!"

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