Saturday, February 13, 2010

Review: "Blades of Glory" Spoofs Sports and Figure Skating

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 61 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Blades of Glory (2007)
Running time: 93 minutes (1 hour, 33 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image, and some drug references
DIRECTORS: Will Speck & Josh Gordon
WRITERS: Jeff Cox & Craig Cox and John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky; from a story by Craig Cox & Jeff Cox and Busy Philipps
PRODUCERS: Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld, and John Jacobs
EDITOR: Richard Pearson


Starring: Will Ferrell, John Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Craig T. Nelson, William Fichtner, Jenna Fischer, Romany Malco, Nick Swardson, Rob Corddry, Scott Hamilton, and Jim Lampley

In his latest comedy juggernaut, Blades of Glory, Will Ferrell joins rising comedy star Jon Heder in a story of a pair of rivals who clown themselves out of their chosen sport and end up stripped of their gold medals. As he usually is, Ferrell’s at the very top of his game, and even Heder adds a new flavor to his own routine.

Male figure skaters Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) are champions on the ice and fierce rivals on and off the ice, and their feud is coming to a head at the World Championships. Michaels is a swaggering, macho rock star who skates hard and loves and leaves his female fans in his wake. MacElroy is a driven former child prodigy and the only competitor who can match Micheals’ scores. The personal project of wealthy champion athlete-maker, Darren MacElroy (William Fichtner), Jimmy is all poise and technical brilliance. When Chazz and Jimmy’s bitter rivalry erupts into a no-holds-barred fight, the ensuing brawl sets the World Championship’s helpless mascot on fire. Called before figure skating’s governing board, the pair are stripped of their gold medals and banned from the sport for life.

Three and half years later, both men are struggling to find their way without competitive skating. Jimmy’s old mentor, Coach (Craig T. Nelson, playing to the slapstick hilt the kind of role for which he’s best known) has a revolutionary idea. There is a loophole that will allow Chazz and Jimmy to return to skating, but only in pairs figure skating. With the help of dance teacher, Jesse (Romany Malco, surprisingly adept at creating characters), Coach whips the enemies into shape. In spite of their festering hatred for one another, Chazz and Jimmy become the first male/male figure skating pair. The sport’s not quite ready for them, and neither are the reigning gold medal team of brother and sister, Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler). The duo’s sister, Katie (Jenna Fischer), however is ready for Jimmy, and they’re all headed for a showdown at the World Wintersports Games.

I never expected Blade of Glory to make me laugh so much, but I certainly felt happy after seeing it. It’s one of those films where everything seems to come together. This is a good script pokes fun at a sub-culture that has many ardent supporters, but also a perhaps even larger group of people who deride it, which describes figure skating. The script fell into the hands of a directing team, Will Speck & Josh Gordon (of the Geico Insurance Cavemen TV commercials), that understands the rhythms and timing necessary to make a great comic film. Even costume designer Julie Weiss creates attire, gear, and uniforms that perfectly captures the flashy over-the-top grandeur of skating and mixes in costumes that lampoon the sports innate ostentatious flair.

Great comedy, however, needs great comedians, and Blades of Glory has that. Will Ferrell has the resilience of a Spartan when it comes to fashioning ridiculous comic creations and then sustaining them for the duration of a film shoot. Chazz Michael Micheals is Ferrell’s typical deadpan moron who is completely oblivious to how much he annoys and irritates everyone around him, and like Ferrell’s other film creations, Michaels is a riot. Jon Heder seems to have dug himself into a hole playing the lovable nerd, but he spins Jimmy MacElroy giving him the confidence of a champion athlete, as well as the lovable nerdy innocence we’ve come to expect from a Heder character.

The rest of the cast is equally good. Will Arnett and Amy Poehler are pure, mad genius as the creepy and evil Van Waldenbergs. Jenna Fischer takes what could have been a one-note character and makes her fun by giving Katie Van Waldenberg spice and a bit of edge. Even the announcing team of real-life skating champion Scott Hamilton and veteran TV sports announcer Jim Lampley add a touch of dry humor and drool wit in their deadpan delivery as the color commentators.

Still, I’m astounded that Blades of Glory made me laugh so much. Maybe this is what happens when a talented comic cast joins the right creative team and crew. They make a comedy be what it should be – as funny as possible.

8 of 10

Tuesday, April 03, 2007



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