Blades of Glory Review
Two of Hollywood’s newest comic heavyweights join forces as rival figure skaters turned teammates in this funny take on a sport rarely, if ever, seen at the cinema. Will Ferrell plays hot-headed sex addict Chazz Michael Michaels who has shared the gold and silver medals at numerous events with another leading male skater: socially-awkward orphan Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder). Their conflicting personalities lead to a no-holds-barred fight at the World Championships and life bans from their beloved sport. Three and a half years later, and just months before the next World Championships, they find a loophole that will allow them to compete again. But to do so they must put their differences aside to form the first ever all-male figure skating pairing.
After Ferrell’s last hit Talladega Nights proved there is still life in sports comedies, it is no surprise to see him popping up in another so soon. Heder, who has been looking for a serious hit since breakthrough film Napoleon Dynamite brought him to the public’s attention, will be thankful this is a rib-tickler that delivers on its promising premise. Off the ice the Michaels/MacElroy relationship sees them go from snidely squabbling to earning each other’s respect with plenty of trademark outlandish moments from Ferrell and Heder doing his best to match him, despite relying on his geek persona a little too often. Ably supported by Arrested Development’s Will Arnett and Saturday Night Live’s Amy Poehler as a bickering brother-sister team willing to go to any lengths to win gold, there is enough clowning around between them all to keep it just about zipping along. Despite all this, there are niggling problems such as the jokes getting repetitive, underwritten sequences injected to beef up the running time and the two leads failing to fully realise the potential of their pairing.
However, where Blades of Glory does score very highly is in the hilarious skating routines that ignore the conventions of real figure skating while using wirework and camera trickery to pull off impossible stunts. So we get memorable moments such as Michaels holding MacElroy up at the crotch and a sequence with Arnett and Poehler caricaturing John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Together with over the top commentary from enthusiastic sports anchors, it brings the much-needed zest lacking away from the rink. It’s hard to think of ice-skating as the ideal setting for outrageous behaviour until you’ve seen what’s on offer here.
Even though Ferrell and Heder never seem completely at ease with their characters, Blades of Glory is still more engaging than Talladega Nights and far superior to Heder’s post-Napoleon Dynamite work. It could easily have buckled under the strain of their contrasting comedy styles, but when they both connect with the script from debutants Jeff and Craig Cox it is a lot of fun. Combined with the action in the rink, this is much closer to the comic gold we all know they are capable of producing. Long may their good form continue.
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