Friday, April 13, 2007

"Blades of Glory" (2007) Josh Gordon/Will Speck

There's no accounting for taste, especially in matters of the funny. While one person could see an Adam Sandler film and think “Hah, this is hilarious, Adam Sandler is the comedic genius of our age”, another person could see the same film and think “Hah, I’d rather stick my head in a toaster oven than endure another minute of this.”

Comedy is a fickle thing, varying greatly from one person to the next. I was once in a room with a girl I didn’t know very well. The Simpsons were on the television and this girl didn’t laugh once. Never even cracked a smile. This was when I decided I didn’t want to know her any better.

I’m equally picky though, when it comes to comedy films. There’s movies that have me spraining my stomach on every viewing (Mean Girls, Young Frankenstein, Singin’ in the Rain) and others that leave me cold (Borat, every Adam Sandler film, every “goofy” Robin Williams film). When I first heard about Blades of Glory I wasn’t interested in seeing it. Neither the appearance of Will Ferrell or the ice-skating set up were enticing enough to warrant me spending money on a ticket for it. However, when I read that the film also starred Will Arnett, my feelings shifted slightly. Anything will Will Arnett in it can’t be that awful, right?

Quite surprisingly, it wasn’t that awful.

The film opens in Stockholm, where the male figure skating championships are taking place. The two main contenders are both Americans; Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) is the “sex-god” of the ice-rink, a pompous wannabe cowboy who makes all the ladies go wild with his raunchy free-styling, Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) is the bucktoothed wunderkid, orphaned at a young age who now dazzles with technical precision. Both men are chronic show-offs and great skaters, although their style of skating could not be any different. They’re also mortal enemies, so it’s only natural that when they tie for the gold medal, a fistfight breaks out that results in them both getting banned from competitive skating for life. Aw, shucks.

Fastforward three years and both men are squandering their life and their talents working in deadend jobs. Jimmy is working in a skate-shop, trying to dispense professional advice to bratty kids who just want him to tie their laces and Chazz is getting sloshed as the part of “evil wizard” in a low budget children’s show that resembles “Disney on Ice” on acid. It’s Jimmy who gets out of the slump first, when a loophole uncovered by his obsessive stalker Hector allows him to reenter the world of competitive skating, if he skates as part of a double. In a thrilling plot twist that will shock the audience (or, at least those who haven’t seen any trailers or promo pics for the film), the skater he ends up teaming-up with is none other than Will Ferrell! Or I should say, Chazz Michael Michaels (but then, isn’t every Will Ferrell character just an extension of Will Ferrell?)

Once this premise is set up, the film is allowed to bring on the laughs. There’s a couple of feeble subplots with one involving Ferrell’s character being a sex-addict and a love story for Heder, but everyone knows the main point of this film is to show two men faffing around on the ice together. It’s true, there is something inherantly figure skating and if you don’t find the thought of two men pirouetting around the ice in glittering, skin-tight spandex to the strains of the Flash Gordon theme amusing, you should probably dispense with this review right now.

I’m not a huge Will Ferrell fan, I actually find his constant gurning kind of irritating. But I will admit that he’s a good physical comedy actor and when he’s paired with the skinny nerdtastic moves of Jon Heder, they turn out some hilarious routines. The dance scene of Napoleon Dynamite was the only bit of that film which I enjoyed and there’s echoes of it here, as the two men begin their training for the pair figure-skating championships. With Ferrel’s bulky buffoonery and Heder’s amusing mixture of grace and awkwardness, the routines on the ice are a delight to watch. Their first public performance together, to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” is hilarious and also kind of inspiring, as they slowly win over the audience.

My favourite of the routines, however, was executed by the baddies of the film, a show stealing turn by Will Arnett and his real-life wife Amy Poehler. The duo play Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg, a cartoonishly wicked brother and sister skating pair who are determined to take the top spot over Chazz and Jimmy. The pair dominate every scene they’re in, whether it’s a hilarious J.F.K./Marilyn
Monroe ice-skating routine, coaxing their innocent sister Katie into sleeping with Ferrell or just plain ol’ evil stuff. They mightn’t be the most realistic baddies ever created, but they provide the biggest laughs of the film.

At times the flimsy plot feels like it’s skating on thin ice (see what I did there?) and occasionlly the blades of Will Ferrell’s humour start to blunt (and again?), but you don’t go to see a film like this expecting great storylines or interesting character development. Blade of Glory mightn’t be the greatest film ever created, but by the time the wonderfully silly finale routine skates by, complete with sequined TRON outfits, I had thoroughly enjoyed myself.


Ann Marie said...

Very witty puns :P
I'd heard it was good, not the greatest comedy film ever, but still entertaining.
Do I know the person who didn't even smile during The Simpsons?
BTW new blog up.

Catherine said...

No you don't know her. I don't even remember who she was, she was in my cousin's house at some Christmas party. She was such a freak!

Segway said...

If you enjoyed Will Arnett in Blades of Glory, you should check out the Will Arnett Research Project at

Damien Kelly said...

I told you you'd like it,you give me no credit.:(:(:(:( Maybe she didn't laugh because the simpsons is no longer funny...the new episodes that is...the old ones are good. "AAAPPRRIILLLL....." BOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!

Ninquelosse said...

It looks a bit like Zoolander-meets-Dodgeball to me. Not that that's a massive problem, if it's anywhere near as funny as those two films.