Blades of Glory Review
By Joe Lozito
Auto racing, Television News, Christmas Elf - is there any occupation Will Ferrell can't parlay into a goofy mainstream comedy? If "Blades of Glory" - the comedian's latest vehicle set in the world of competitive figure skating - is any indication, that answer is no - sorta. While "Blades" offers the requisite chuckles - most located around the groin area - the plot, jokes and characters are as obvious as the winking "two men in tights" homophobia that permeates the film. "Blades" is for people who think the sight of two men in spandex is inherently funny. And for a while the film tries to be nothing more than that. When we meet Mr. Ferrell's Chazz Michael Michaels, he's an aging hotshot figure skater competing against the young upstart pretty boy Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder). Through some impressive visual trickery, the two men execute flawless routines ending in a tie-ruling that leads to fisticuffs and gets both men expelled from the sport. Only through a loophole, discovered by Jimmy's creepy-enough-to-be-not-funny stalker, do the two men realize they can re-enter the world of skating...as partners.
And so begins the endless bickering and training sequences on the road to a gold medal at the Olymp - - oh, sorry, I mean the World Wintersports Games. Apparently the good folks from the Olympic Games wanted nothing to do with this film. You can't really blame them. Though "Blades" is a fairly benign comedy, it paints a picture of competitive skating as a bunch of preening dunderheads. Particularly troublesome are the evil brother and sister team of Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (real life paramours Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) who provide the necessary antagonism for the plot. Little sister Katie Van Waldenberg (Jenna Fischer, not venturing too far from "The Office") provides the love interest.
With all this in place, the script, by newcomers Jeff and Craig Cox, glides through the typical sports movie tropes with mixed success: the bitter rivalry, the training montage and of course the secret weapon - in this case a ridiculous feat of skatesmanship called the Iron Lotus (fans of that classic Rodney Dangerfield comedy "Back to School" will immediately recall the "Triple Lindy"). Along the way, as you'd expect with any sports movie, a veritable who's who of champs stop by for some screentime (Nancy Kerrigan, Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming) with even more getting name-checked.
"Blades of Glory" isn't a classic comedy, but it's diverting enough thanks, for the most part, to the presence of Mr. Ferrell himself. Mr. Heder - destined to be known as "the guy from 'Napoleon Dynamite'" - while perfectly cast in his role, continues to ride out that familiar persona that carried him through "Benchwarmers" (ick) and "School for Scondrels" (egads). But Mr. Ferrell doesn't need a great script or direction to be funny. The man just is
funny. From his first entrance, the audience is immediately smiling. And everyone else seems to be having a great time too. Only a Will Ferrell comedy could boast star cameos like Andy Richter, Rob Corddry, William Daniels, Luke Wilson. In the world of comedy, Mr. Ferrell wins the gold.