Rarely has the fashion dictum ‘more is less’ seemed so apt. Ben Stiller and his fellow satiristas deck out Zoolander 2, belated sequel to 2001’s cult fashion spoof, with gags and cameos galore, but the resulting getup is a gaudy mess.

Stiller’s absurdly dim male model Derek Zoolander remains an endearingly silly comic creation – the notion that a face one might find peering from the side of a medieval cathedral could be a catwalk sensation is a scream in itself – and so is Owen Wilson’s Hansel, Derek’s equally addle-brained and narcissistic rival. But Stiller and co’s high-camp send up of the fashion world is stretched very thin this time around.

The plot of the first film was brazenly ridiculous, for sure, but the sequel’s storyline is feeble rather than daffy as Stiller and his three co-writers attempt to chart a course between the assassination of a string of pop stars (cue strained Justin Bieber cameo) and a search for the fabled fountain of youth (Derek’s trademark pout proves to be the crucial link).  

Not that this inhibits the cast, and there are gung-ho performances from Penélope Cruz (chief of Interpol’s fashion division), Kristen Wiig (a grotesque vowel-strangling fashion queen) and Will Ferrell (returning as arch villain Mugatu), not to mention game-for-a-laugh cameos from the unlikely likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Susan Boyle and Sting. There are laughs, of course, but most of the jokes are discount knockoffs rather than high-class couture.

Certificate 12A. Runtime 102 mins. Director Ben Stiller