Going for Laughter Gold
Wearing colorful spangled costumes as they glide, spin and jump across the ice, Will Ferrell and Jon Heder look every bit the formidable skating pair in Blades of Glory. Well, not at first, of course. This comedy is about two rival ice skaters who were stripped of their gold medals and permanently banned from men's single competition after brawling with each other at the World Championships. Surprisingly, they later find a loophole that allows them to skate as a pair’s team. Watching these two funnymen clad in elaborate costumes cavort on the ice made me laugh so much my stomach ached. Granted, I’m an avid Ferrell AND figure skating fan, so my reaction to this film is not surprising.
As Chazz Michael Michaels, Ferrell plays the dominant member of the movie’s comic duo, and we’ve seen him do hilarious macho roles like this before. But this time he really pulls out all the stops. Chazz never shirks from crude behavior both on and off the ice. He oozes overconfidence, insults other skaters, the judges, fans -- you name it. When he faces disgrace and teams up with former rival Jimmy MacElroy, portrayed by Jon Heder, to make a comeback, he’s still the obnoxious one who must change the most to regain the success he once achieved. Heder’s character is straight -- but not afraid to appear girlish in skating routines, and the Napoleon Dynamite sensation shines in this more sympathetic role. The plot deals primarily with how these two deadly enemies learn to work together, develop respect for each other, and even become close friends.
Skating training sessions in Blades of Glory not only provide the movie’s funniest sequences but also offer a behind-the-scenes look at what figure skaters must endure to get in shape for those rigorous competition events. They also show the importance of both artistry and athleticism in this popular sport. And figure skating fans will surely get a kick out of seeing some of their idols like Sasha Cohen and Scott Hamilton in cameos here.
While Ferrell and Heder give their all as co-stars in Blades of Glory, supporting cast members also rise to the occasion. Will Arnett (R.V.) and Amy Poehler (Envy) as the jealous brother/sister skating pair competition, make wonderfully funny villains; Craig Nelson (The Family Stone) projects a no-nonsense attitude as a skating coach with a secret weapon up his sleeve; and Jenna Fischer (from TV’s The Office) wins us over with her endearing innocence as Heder’s love interest.
Could something as bizarre as the situation depicted in this film really happen in the world of figure skating? I wouldn’t bet against it. After all, who suspected Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan’s rivalry to result in such violence? That incident certainly increased interest in figure skating. Perhaps Blades of Glory will do the same.
(Released by Dreamworks and rated “PG-13” for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image and some drug references.)