Directed by: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Starring: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer
It looks like it’s official: Will Ferrell has found his meal ticket. If you were inclined to think that Ferrell, after making Stranger than Fiction (2006), might be taking his whole “acting career” thing seriously, then let Blades of Glory disavow you of this notion.
The movie is exactly the same as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2005), though it would appear that no one could come up with a snazzy subordinate title. Would you like to make your own Will Ferrell flick? It’s easy! Just take Ferrell, make him a pompous rube with a quirky name, and give him an offbeat occupation: In this movie, he’s a sex-addicted male figure skater named Chazz Michael Michaels. From there, all that is needed is a lot of seemingly spontaneous catchphrases, some requisite attempts at irreverence and the supposed hilarity of Ferrell either shirtless or in spandex, and voilà! It’s the Mad Libs of filmmaking.
The difference with Blades of Glory, however, is the teaming of Ferrell with Jon Heder, the comedic duo the world has been yearning for since the days of Bill and Ted. Sure, they do a decent job of playing off each other, but the material is so worn-out that it doesn’t really matter. Not only this, but it seems Heder is never going to shake his Napoleon Dynamite persona; he spends the entire film in a state of slack-jawed wonderment (I think The Jesus Lizard pretty much summed it up best when they said, “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice guy, I like him just fine, but he’s a mouth breather”). The film, however, has greater problems than Heder’s persona or hairstyle.
The film begins with rival male figure skaters Chazz and Jimmy MacElroy (Heder)—one is the sport’s maverick and the other is its poster boy—being banned from the sport for getting into fisticuffs after tying for a gold medal. The story then picks up three years later, with Chazz playing a wizard in some type of bogus Disney on Ice show and Jimmy working at a skate shop, relegated to obscurity. When a loophole is found allowing the two to compete again—as long as it is in pairs skating—the duo decides to make up and become a team (since no one else will partner with either one).
Of course, all this man-on-man touching makes for plenty of gay jokes. Add this to the smattering of gags that go nowhere (like an utterly pointless skit about a $20,000 hair brush, among many, many others), along with the patented Will Ferrell “Hey, look at me, I’m funny!” riffing, and you have a comedy that strains to keep moving along. There are a handful of amusing bits and pieces, none of which will stay in your memory once you leave the theater.
Some have said that Blades of Glory is a satire of the exaggerated theatrics and decadence of the world of figure skating, and while it is hard to argue with that, it does beg the question of what, exactly, is the point of such a satire? Did figure skating really have it coming? Does anyone really think figure skating needs to be put in its place? Happy Gilmore (1996) is over a decade old now, and golf seems to be doing just fine, so I doubt figure skating has much to worry about. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image and some drug references.
— reviewed by Justin Souther