Blades of Glory
Directed by Josh Gordon, Will Speck. Starring Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, William Fichtner, Craig T. Nelson, Nick Swardson, Rob Corddry. (2007, PG-13, 93 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 30, 2007
Just because Ferrell is game for anything that might draw a laugh, it doesn't mean the comedian and leading (funny)man should follow through with every idea that comes his way. Blades of Glory, although mildly amusing, has the dank odor of having gone to the well once too often: Ooh, let's dress up Ferrell like an elf – or an anchorman or a NASCAR driver – and see what happens. There's more concept than execution in Blades of Glory, which squishes Ferrell's flabby body into an ice skater's spandex and then runs on the weak narrative fumes left over from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Again Ferrell is given a goofy name, Chazz Michael Michaels, and again his poor conduct gets him into trouble with the officials of the sport or job, and again the character's homophobia (the subject of many sniggering jokes) is resolved with a literal big kiss or a figurative skate into the heavens. (The ending of Blades of Glory is just plain bizarre.) A slugfest between Michaels and his chief rival, Jimmy MacElroy (Napoleon Dynamite's Heder), gets the two banned from competitive ice skating, but after three years a loophole is discovered that allows them to skate again competitively, but only as a precedent-setting male pair. (Let the guffaws begin.) But for all the laughs predicated on crotch-to-face leaps and poses, there are also a few genuinely funny sequences – for instance, a chase in ice skates while on dry land and the memorable conclusion to the infamous Iron Lotus trick. Solid support comes from Arnett and Poehler as Chazz and Jimmy's new archrivals (the incestuous brother-sister skate duo, Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg), the always reliable Nelson as – what else – a coach, and a slew of cameos that includes everyone from Andy Richter and Luke Wilson to a host of real skaters (among them Nancy Kerrigan, Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, and Sasha Cohen) and sports announcer Jim Lampley. Still, most of the gags are pretty tired and predictable, and feel like filler in what is already a pretty minimal story line. Ferrell's bloated belly and flabby physique make the actor pretty unbelievable as a professional athlete, which, I guess, is part of the joke. But it ultimately becomes a question of physics and aerodynamics: Is it really possible for a person to waddle on ice? Through the magic of movies, the answer is yes.