Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Blades of Glory
Review by Sombrero Grande

Blades of Glory is a buddy comedy that tells the tale of Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) and Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell), two bitter rivals in the professional ice-skating world whose hatred of one another culminates in a disastrous public entanglement that leads to both of them being banned from competition for life. But when an obsessive fan of MacElroy’s discovers a loophole that will allow his idol to skate again, just so long as it’s in “pairs” competition, McElroy and Michaels begrudgingly unite to form the first both-male professional ice-skating team.

The idea has plenty of comedic potential and a fabulous cast to pull it off, yet somehow Blades of Glory never really hits its stride.

The flat-out funniest moments in the film are the bizarre spoofs of skating routines performed. Whether it’s Heder, Ferrell or the husband-wife duo of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler out on the ice, it obvious that these talented comedic actors are having an absolute blast as they revel in the uproarious silliness. An unsung hero of these scenes is the flawless special effects work that was done to make it look like these actors are really out there doing these spins and jumps instead of stunt performers. The routines are so enjoyable that when, later on in the film, we are merely shown “highlights” from one of the skating performances, I felt genuinely let down.

Unfortunately, while the rest of the film does have its funny moments, it just never seems to hit the heights of hilarity you’d expect. The terrific cast, including Ferrell, Heder, Arnett, Poehler, Craig T. Nelson and Jenna Fischer, are utilized better here than they have been in many of their other comedic projects (for Ferrell, see Kicking and Screaming; for Arnett, see RV; etc.) but it’s frustrating to still see them not being used to their full potential.

The script starts out in buddy comedy mode and then moves into the kind of “guys getting uncomfortably close to one another” humor that made this year’s Snickers Super Bowl commercial so popular. From there the script moves into “villains plotting” mode which leads to the expected “you betrayed me and since we’re now friends it really hurts” scene. Along the way the autopilot script forgets to follow through on some set-ups that went nowhere (for example, the whole story with Jimmy’s father abandoning him) as it culminates in a final showdown, then chooses to bizarrely punctuate the film with a “what the heck” moment that could be considered a “movie killer” by some.

While Blades of Glory is quite funny in parts, there’s really nothing about it that sticks with the viewer afterwards. No one gag or line really stands out as being that thing that you’ll refer to on the ride home or even a week later to cause an after-chuckle or two. It’s an enjoyable comedy, but not one that anyone should be in a rush to see. It’ll make a decent rental somewhere down the line, but for now just go ahead and watch Anchorman or Napoleon Dynamite again for plenty of Ferrell and Heder laughs.


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