Thursday 11 October 2007

Blades Of Glory (2007)

Thursday 11 October 2007
Directors: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
Writers: John Altschuler, Craig Cox, Jeff Cox & Dave Krinsky (story by Busy Philipps)

Cast: Will Ferrell (Chazz Michael Michaels), Jon Heder (Jimmy MacElroy), Will Arnett (Stranz Van Waldenberg), Amy Poehler (Fairchild Van Waldenberg), Jenna Fischer (Katie Van Waldenberg), William Fichtner (Darren MacElroy), Craig T. Nelson (Coach), Romany Malco (Jesse), Nick Swardson (Hector), Rob Corddry (Bryce) & William Daniels (Commissioner Ebbers)

Two rival male figure skaters are banned from their sport, but find a loophole to compete again years later -- as a couple...

It's a simple formula: Will Ferrell + a sport or occupation = money. Ferrell's been a newsman (Anchorman) and a racing driver (Talladega Nights) and now turns his attention to male figure skating...

He stars in Blades Of Glory as Chazz Michael Michaels, another of Ferrell's patented boars whose confidence and sexual swagger is at odds with his arrogant, self-centred persona and pallid body.

Joining Ferrell to "kick some ice", as the tagline declares, is Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) an altogether sweeter, toothier character. As Jimmy MacElroy, Heder is an effeminite child prodigy with zero sexual experience, as he's been masterminded all his life by evil adopted father Darren MacElroy (William Fichtner).

Evil family is a recurring theme in Blades Of Glory, as Heder's love-interest Katie (Jenna Fischer) is similarly under the thumb of her famous ice-skating siblings the Van Waldenberg's (Will Arnett as brother Stranz and Amy Poehler as sister Fairchild).

But back to the plot. Michaels and MacElroy start the film as equally-gifted ice rivals, forced to share a gold medal and encurring the wrath of a skating federation for brawling on the podium and setting fire to a mascot.

Banned for life, MacElroy becomes a useless sports store clerk and Michaels a drunken performer in a children's ice rink entertainment show. But, a few years later, they discover a loophole in the rules that allows them to compete again, but only as a male pair...

Blades Of Glory isn't hateful, it's just a missed opportunity that has nothing particularly interesting to say. At best, it's a collection of snarky gay jokes, taking potshots at an easy target. The sight of manly Ferrell gliding over the ice, strutting at the crowd and shooting fireballs from his wrists is good for a chuckle, while Heder is likable in the more ineffectial role.

Ferrell and Heder have a chemistry that rescues the film from total failure, as the pair's grudging comeraderie is entertaining to watch. So much so that you do find yourself willing them on as they float around the ice rink, oddly choreographed to Queen's Flash.

There's decent support from other actors, particularly Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live) as a bitchy rival, whose lilting smile is perfect for sneering and chewing scenery as a boo-hiss villainess. Jenna Fischer has difficulty ditching her naturalistic style from The Office, making Katie so plausibly bullied, it's played too straight for a knockabout comedy. Still, if you have a Fischer fetish, you'll probably be too awed by her lingerie seduction scene to really care.

Craig T. Nelson trots out a fun, if cliched, performance as the boy's Coach, the superb William Fichtner is cruelly wasted as the megalomanical MacElroy senior, while Nick Swardson is similarly cast asunder as superfan Hector.

Overall, Blades Of Glory is the kind of lightweight comedy that provides 93 minutes of amusement, but no lasting memories. It's formulaic and obvious -- a first draft you'd expect from a gang of fratboys writing a Will Ferrell ice skating comedy.

Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck deliver chemistry from their lead actors and a polished sheen to the photography, but it's a shame the script they're working from is so raw. Ultimately, if you find heterosexual men in spandex hilarious, and want easy laughs from obvious ice-skating cliches, this movie is for you.

Blades Of Glory isn't truly bad, it's just unremarkable and predictable. An already-silly target is made moderately sillier through lazy lampooning.

Budget: $61 million (est.)
93 minutes