Blades of Glory (2007) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, a violent image and some drug references
Running Time: 93 min.
Cast: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, Craig T. Nelson, William Fichtner, Romany Malco, Nick Swardson, Jim Lampley, Scott Hamilton, Andy Richter, Luke Wilson, Nancy Kerrigan (cameo), Brian Boitano (cameo), Dorothy Hamill (cameo), Peggy Fleming (cameo)
Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Screenplay: Jeff Cox, Craig Cox, John Altschuler, Dave Krinsky
Review published March 31, 2007
In 2002, figure skating prodigy Jimmy MacElroy (Heder, School for Scoundrels) and self-trained legend Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell, Stranger Than Fiction) were rivals competing for the gold as solo male performers. They tied and shared the glory, only to lose it after disgracing their sport with a brawl. The judgment from the skating council: stripping away their medals and banning them for life in competition. Distraught, they try their best to adjust to life without competing for the gold, but can't find happiness in doing menial work.
After four years, they discover a loophole in the suspension that states that they can only be banned for the sport they had competed in (male solo performer), but that they could still compete for other competitions, including pairs skating. With no luck finding suitable female partners willing to work with two banned and out-of-shape has-beens, they turn to each other, forming the highly unusual same-sex pairs skating team. They plan to go for the gold, the glory, and to restore their place in figure skating history again, but first they must survive the grueling training and constant sabotage from other figure skaters.
Certainly, a silly, immature comedy like Blades of Glory isn't going to win any accolades of its own, but, if you're of a sort who likes silly, immature comedies, it certainly will provide more than its share of smiles, and a few belly laughs too. As often is the case with projects involving "Saturday Night Live" performers, this does seem like a one-joke premise when you first hear of it, and to some extent it is the stuff of skit comedy stretched to feature length, but writers Jeff and Craig Cox, with rewrite assistance from John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, manage to find enough angles in these eccentric characters and funny premise to not lose steam throughout. Of course, in a film that relies so heavily on the personalities of its comedic leads, it certainly helps (in fact, it may be crucial) if you like Will Ferrell's irreverent hamming and Jon Heder's lackadaisical, dorky nature. If you do, you'll have a good time, and if not -- oh boy.
A good deal of the comedy comes through the uncomfortable visual of seeing two men doing something so graceful and elegant together. Much is made of some of their moves, which include stances and lifts that involve one man grabbing or holding the other in the crotch area (face-to-crotch in one particular move). It's crude, but by the time they occur, the zany (but likeable) characters and the stupid humor quotient sufficiently set the tone for these moments to work in a hilarious fashion. These sorts of jokes might not be that funny in and of themselves, but once the context is laid out, we laugh, not because it's funny to see a man lift another man by the crotch, but because it's funny to see these two men do it, and do it in the heat of a world competition.
Like many Ferrell gag-fests, there is a kitchen-sink approach to the comedy, offering up plenty of smaller subplots when necessary, such as Michaels' sex addiction, MacElroy's burgeoning romance with the good girl sibling of their competition, and training in the potentially-lethal skate move known as the "Iron Lotus". They even manage to work in a "celebrity stalker" angle, with Nick Swardson (The Benchwarmers) playing a MacElroy-obsessed fan, that could have been unnerving in any other film, but they even make him seem as likeable as all the rest, even when he spouts such things as, "I'm still going to kill you someday.")
However, unlike Ferrell's other comedies, the screenwriters do a fine job in incorporating all of these side shows into the central plot, never seeming like desperate angles to distract us from knowing there isn't enough material for the subject matter. By the time the dynamic, larger-than-life events occur in the final competition, we've already accepted the fact that just about anything can happen. When the duo fly through the air Peter Pan-style, it's all in keeping with the mindless exuberance of the rest of this funny, featherbrained film.
©2007 Vince Leo