The Will Ferrell Movie has really become a genre of its own. Most people seem to either love or hate the guy, dating all the way back to his early Saturday Night Live career. He plays abrasive, often vulgar characters and would appear at first glance to be as one-note as they come. Then he goes and makes a movie like Stranger than Fiction, where he is genuinely likable. As a moderate fan of his dramatic work and a toss-up fan of his comedic offerings, I entered Blades of Glory with the utmost of cautious optimism.
Little did I know I was about to see what has to be in the top three funniest Ferrell films to date. Granted, mocking figure skating can be done by just about anyone, but there is a refreshing zaniness to be found in nearly every scene. Instead of just trying to be gross, as so many comedies resort to, Blades of Glory actually knows comedy and when a situation has been stretched for all it’s worth. Fortunately there is a scene of equal or greater comedy on deck.
In the film Ferrell is Chazz Michael Michaels, a sex-a-holic figure skater who is bitter enemies with rival Jimmy MacElroy (Heder), a pretty boy whose life is run by his overbearing father, Darren (Fichtner). After a brawl breaks out over a result that forces Chazz and Jimmy to split a gold medal, both are stripped of their winnings and banned from the sport forever – or so they think. Turns out a loophole exists and Chazz and Jimmy can get back in the game, provided they are partners. With the help of Jimmy’s old coach, Coach (Craig T. Nelson – how appropriate), the two begin their training for a showdown with their new rivals, Stranz (Arnett) and Fairchild (Poehler) Van Waldenberg.
As is a necessity while parodying anything involving figure skating, the cheese level is appropriately high. Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck know we’re laughing at the awful composite and wire work, which gives the illusion of Ferrell and Heder actually skating, so they run with it. The final sequence, involving Chazz and Jimmy pulling off what is considered to be an impossible move (as is demonstrated by a laughably gruesome video of another pair’s failed attempt), is pure gold.
Ferrell steals the show, playing his patented jerk manly man with plenty of quotable lines. Those expecting Ferrell to actually pass up an opportunity to take off his clothes would be best advised to just keep on waiting. Heder makes for a serviceable sidekick, but he still comes across as Napoleon Dynamite with a different wig. The supporting work by Craig T. Nelson is a fantastic mix of his old Coach days updated accordingly with a rudeness that occasionally catches you off-guard. What a team.
Blades of Glory is by no means groundbreaking and can’t resist the temptation to go for the obvious gag on several occasions, but it is nevertheless the funniest movie so far this year. In an era of unspeakably awful spoofs and unimaginative turd humor, Blades of Glory’s energy and spontaneity is a welcome sight.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Length: 93 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image and some drug references.
Theatrical Release: March 30, 2007
Directed by: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
Written by: Jeff Cox & Craig Cox & Busy Phillipps & John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky.
Cast: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, William Fichtner