- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ill Ferrell sports comedies seem to be a dime a dozen these days (“Semi-Pro,” his third in as many years, is set to open next year), but that hasn’t stopped the “Saturday Night Live” alum from raking in the cash with what is essentially the same character dressed in a different costume. And who can blame him? Any time the comic actor tries to broaden his range with more serious roles, the films bomb at the box office. It’s no surprise, then, that Ferrell has so quickly returned to the ring of absurdity with the ice skating comedy “Blades of Glory,” a film that is so silly you can’t help but laugh along.
Ferrell stars as Chazz Michael Michaels, a world champion figure skater of rock ‘n’ roll proportions. He’s a self-proclaimed sex addict and the sport’s resident wild thing. His archrival, pedigree pretty boy Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder), couldn’t be any different, and what he lacks in masculinity, Jimmy makes up for with flair and perfect technique. Their promising careers are dashed, however, when they’re both banned for life following a brawl during the gold medal awards ceremony. But three and a half years later, Jimmy stumbles across a loophole in the rulebook that will allow them to compete in the upcoming world championships: enter together in the pairs competition and make history as the first male-male act. With the help of Jimmy’s former coach (Craig T. Nelson), the guys are given one month to put aside their differences and get into shape before entering the rink against the division’s defending champs, the brother-sister duo of Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler).
The homoerotic jokes fly fast and furious during the opening half of the film, but once the story becomes more about the actual competition than the taboo pairing, “Blades of Glory” settles down to become a rather disciplined comedy. That isn’t to say that the film doesn’t have it’s share of botched jokes and pointless subplots (including a love story between Heder and Jenna Fischer’s character), but it’s not nearly as spotty as “Talladega Nights.” As far as the performances go, the chemistry between its two stars works surprisingly well, despite how awkward the coupling may have initially seemed. Ferrell does his usual schtick as the out-of-control funny man, with the character of Chazz falling somewhere between the nuanced brilliance of Ron Burgandy and the sheer stupidity of Ricky Bobby, while Heder delivers his best performance since “Napoleon Dynamite.” In fact, he may just have a career in this industry yet. Arnett and Poehler aren’t nearly as effective as the villains of the story, but they get the job done as a couple of Tonya Harding disciples with an unspoken incestuous attraction to one another.
“Blades of Glory” is one of those movies that could have been a disaster in the wrong hands. Replace Ferrell and Heder with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson and what do you get? Starsky and Hutch on Ice. In fact, it was such a relief to see only one member of the alleged Frat Pack make a cameo appearance, and it’s definitely a step in the right direction. We don’t need to see these guys popping up in each other’s films every time one of them gets a new gig, especially when there are more deserving actors (like Rob Corddry) waiting to take their place. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, but if there’s one way to make all these sports comedies appear even remotely different from the others, it’s by changing up the cast every once in a while. And in that respect “Blades of Glory” succeeds. It’ll also make you laugh harder than any other movie this year, so it’s got that going for it too.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
After Paramount sided with HD-DVD in the format war, it looked like Will Ferrell's ice skating comedy would never see the light of day on Blu-ray. Now that the war is over, however, the studio has made it a top priority to release "Blades of Glory" as part of their first wave of Blu-ray titles, and the transfer is impeccable. Along with all the deleted scenes and outtakes you’d expect from a Will Ferrell movie, the single-disc release also includes a making-of featurette (“Return to Glory”) and two short production featurettes on skate training (“Celebrities on Thin Ice”) and costumes. Rounding out the disc is an edition of Moviefone Unscripted with Ferrell, Jon Heder and Will Arnett, a short discussion with Arnett and Amy Poehler on working together in the film (“A Family Affair”), “20 Questions with Scott Hamilton,” and loads of photo galleries documenting the filmmaking process.