Zoolander appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I didn’t think the picture looked absolutely terrific, but it appeared solid for the most part.
Sharpness generally seemed fine. At most times, I found the movie to exhibit positive clarity and crispness. I saw only a few signs of softness or fuzziness in some wider shots. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and I also detected no evidence of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I witnessed a little light grain at times, and I noticed a few examples of speckles and grit. Nothing serious occurred, but a few defects did appear.
Colors usually looked nicely bright and vibrant. I thought the hues seemed slightly heavy on a couple of occasions, but those were rare. The tones generally came across as accurate and vivid. Black levels seemed deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately thick but not excessively opaque. Overall, the picture of Zoolander wasn’t great, but it appeared satisfying as a whole.
Also quite good was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Zoolander. As with most comedies, the film’s soundfield stayed fairly heavily oriented toward the front channels, where it presented fine presence and stereo imaging. Music seemed to spread broadly across the speakers, while effects were appropriately localized and they blended together neatly. The surrounds usually offered general reinforcement of the front audio, but they kicked in with some unique material at times. For example, the “Relax” hypnotism sequence used the rears nicely, and a few other sequences contributed good activity. Overall, the soundfield appeared unspectacular, but it worked fine for this sort of material.
Audio quality was more than acceptable. Dialogue seemed reasonably natural and distinct, and I heard no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Music was nicely bright and vibrant. Both songs and score showed fine range and clarity, and they contributed some terrific low-end elements at times. Effects also came across as clean and accurate. They seemed well reproduced and kicked in good bass when appropriate, such as during an explosion. Zoolander offered a consistently solid soundtrack.
On this “Special Collector’s Edition” of Zoolander, we discover a smattering of extras. First up is an audio commentary from actor/writer/director Ben Stiller plus fellow screenwriters Drake Sather and John Hamburg. All three were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece. Overall, the commentary offered a breezy and compelling look at the film.
Not surprisingly, Stiller dominated the track, though he didn’t do so in a forced or egotistical way. He wore so many hats on the film that it was absolutely inevitable we’d hear his voice more than the others. Sather and Hamburg contribute some good material, but this was Stiller’s commentary to make or break, and he handled it well. He and the others discussed a myriad of elements about the movie, from its origins to casting to story and script changes to locations to a number of other bits. Very few empty spaces appeared, and the three men kept the tone light and engaging across the board. They provided a very solid commentary that seemed enjoyable and educational.
After this we discover collections of Deleted Scenes and Extended Scenes. We get five of each. The deleted scenes run between 23 seconds and four minutes, 40 seconds for a total of eight minutes, 23 seconds of footage. The extended scenes last between 34 seconds and two minutes, four seconds for a total of seven minutes, 56 seconds of material. All 10 snippets can be viewed with or without commentary from Stiller.
Overall, I thought the various clips were pretty interesting. Actually, many of them were quite good, and I felt a few of them should have made the final cut. All appeared in non-anamorphic 2.35:1 with Dolby Surround 2.0 sound. As for Stiller’s remarks, he didn’t always tell us why the material was removed from the film - which is the basic mission of deleted scenes commentaries - but he usually provided that info, and he also added some good statements about the shots.
Many more video-based extras appear here. Next we locate six minutes, 33 seconds of Outtakes. Most of these consist of the usual flubbed lines and laughing, but they also include a few more interesting moments. Most of those came from a variety of unused ad-libs offered by Will Ferrell, and those make the segments more entertaining than normal.
As noted in my review, the Zoolander character first emerged during some VH1 Fashion Awards Skits. The DVD includes both the 1996 edition (two minutes, 45 seconds) and the 1997 take (three minutes, 52 seconds). While not any funnier than Stiller’s material in the movie, I thought these were cool to see since they show the earliest incarnation of the part. I was very happy to find them on the DVD.
Next up is an Alternate End Title Sequence. This two-minute and 15-second clip offers exactly what it indicates: a different version of the closing titles. It’s interesting to see but not something fascinating; I mean, a lot of folks didn’t bother to watch the real end titles!
In the Photo Galleries section we find three subsections. It includes “Derek’s Portfolio” (eight shots), “Hansel’s Portfolio” (12 images), and “Zoolander Production Stills” (19 snaps). The two portfolios are fun to see since they give us clearer views of material from the film. The production shots
Zoolander includes a music video for the Wiseguys’ “Start the Commotion”. This clip uses the standard mix of shots from the film intercut with lip-synch images of the band. Actually, the latter elements seem more clever than usual, as they feature the performers in outfits that emulate various performers, but it remains a pretty ordinary video.
Tons of short pieces show up in the Promo Spots domain. “PSAs” offers six phony public service announcements from Zoolander; each lasts between 15 seconds and 25 seconds. “MTV Cribs” gives us three 30-second bits, while “Interstitials” contributes an additional six clips, each of which lasts between 20 and 30 seconds. All of these are fairly similar promotional pieces that usually show Derek as he spouts inanities. They get a little redundant after a while, but they still offer a cool extra.
One frustration in regard to these areas and the deleted/extended scenes domains: no “Play All” option! It’s annoying to have to constantly return to a menu to watch such brief pieces. However, in other ways, Paramount provide some very considerate touches. Most of Zoolander’s extras include both English and French subtitles. In addition, this is one of the few Paramount releases that doesn’t force you to sit through unskippable “Warning” screens; when it starts, it jumps straight to the main menu.
And that’s another area that deserves discussion. When the main menu begins, we hear narration from Stiller as Zoolander; he explains the different options to us. Similar chat pops up during the “Special Features” screen as well. It’s a fun touch, especially since the DVD never forces us to sit through it; you can make your selections while Stiller yaks and don’t have to wait until he finishes.
Though a moderately enjoyable piece, I doubt they’ll induct Zoolander into the parody hall of fame anytime soon. While the movie has enough entertaining material to warrant a look, it suffers from the blandness of its star; when the lead actor is the worst thing about a movie, that becomes a trap from which it can’t escape. I liked the flick as a whole, though, for the supporting cast helped overcome Ben Stiller’s weaknesses. As a disc, the DVD offered generally solid sound and picture as well as a pretty decent roster of extras. If you’re wilder about Ben Stiller than I, Zoolander likely warrants a purchase, whereas others might want to rent it instead.