Blades of Glory
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Josh Gordon, Will Speck
scr Jeff Cox, Craig Cox
with Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, Craig T Nelson, William Fichtner, Romany Malco, Nick Swardson, William Daniels, Luke Wilson, Scott Hamilton, Nancy Kerrigan, Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming
release US 30.Mar.07, UK 6.Apr.07
07/US Paramount-DreamWorks 1h33
Blades of Glory
Big finish: Ferrell and Heder

arnett poehler wilson

Blades of Glory This ridiculous comedy is so sublimely silly that we can just about forgive its constant homophobic subtext. But the script is sharp and fast, and almost keeps up with the hilarious cast.

Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) is a macho world champion figure skater, complete with beer belly and heavily notched headboard. His arch-rival is the fluffy Jimmy MacElroy (Heder), whose impeccable choreography is dubbed by Chazz as "Cirque du So Lame". When their rivalry boils over into a gold-medal podium brawl, they're banned for life. But three years later they find a loophole: if they skate together, they can enter the pairs competition. Now Jimmy's ex-coach (Nelson) must train them to face their new rivals, a creepy brother-sister act (Arnett and Poehler).

The film kicks off with a riotous introduction to both skaters (Chazz's sleazy porn star versus Jimmy's privileged orphan). The comedy is fast and very dry, blending Christopher Guest-style patter with outrageously staged slapstick goofiness. For the first half, we can barely catch our breath through the laughter. Even after the plot machinations start groaning and the one joke gets old, we still giggle at the brilliant sight gags.

There's nothing remotely sophisticated about this film, but it has a much surer hand and a warmer approach to its characters than typical Ferrell or Heder comedies. Much of Ferrell's dialog approaches comparison with the great Bad Santa, while the physical indignities both face deserve some sort of Purple Heart for bravery. Much of their pairs-skating choreography is focussed squarely on their crotches, which is rude and surprisingly funny.

So it's a shame the film spends so much time convincing us that there's nothing gay going on. This isn't done in a clever way; it's insulting and cheap (one character actually bemoans their pairing, "as if figure skating wasn't gay enough already"). And the one character who might be gay is a complete freak. On the other hand, Ferrell and Heder play their hot-cold feud perfectly, with some truly inspired comic sequences along the way. Even the cheesy computer effects can't weaken their big final routine. Yes, they definitely "put the bone in Zamboni".

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo, violence 26.Mar.07

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2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall