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Why I Walked Out of ‘Zoolander 2’

Let me explain: I never walk out of movies. Ever. Once I’m at a screening or a theater, I stay till the bitter end. I used to tell myself it was because I hoped the film would get better, but that almost never happens. I also felt I couldn’t properly review a film unless I watched it from start to finish. (I fear there is also a streak of masochism involved.)

But as I embarked on the experience of watching Zoolander 2 at a press screening the other night, I had an immediate reaction of annoyance and impatience. The film was stupid right from the start. I told myself that I was wasting my time for no good reason.

Still, I stayed. Ten minutes passed, then twenty, filled with puerile and unfunny gags; along with gratuitous cameo appearances by everyone from Katy Perry to Willie Nelson. If even one of them had seemed clever I might have summoned some hope for the rest of the picture, but it was not to be.

Mind you, I thought the original Zoolander was pretty funny. I had no reason to expect this one to be so much worse. But it is.

Finally, after almost an hour, I strode out of the theater, proud of myself for taking positive action and sparing myself further insult. If there are hilarious moments in the latter half of the movie I can’t cite them for you. I can only offer an honest appraisal of what I saw. I bear no permanent grudge against anyone connected with the movie and hope they do better the next time out.

By the way, it felt good to get home earlier than usual…and I think I turned a corner. Life is too short to spend two hours in a state of total exasperation.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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