REVIEW: Blades of Glory [2007]

“Sex on ice”

It’s a real shame that Hollywood churns out some utter crap passed off as entertainment. The new low-brow comedy Blades of Glory has a great premise: two old skating rivals team together, after being banned for life in competition, as the first all male pair to fight for gold at the World Championships. This was ripe for some social commentary, a little out of their element shtick, and a touch of big laugh action sequences. What we get instead are two lead actors doing what they do in every movie they are in and a whole lot of name actors being as effeminate as they possibly can because I guess gay men in the skating community equals a huge laugh riot. I will admit that this film had some funny moments and also some decent acting, but overall the production was shoddy and relied way too much on its stars to bring the fun amidst many redundant routines.

Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I am not a big Will Ferrell fan. Sure I loved him in Stranger Than Fiction, and he can make me laugh hard at times ( Old School), but in the end, his boorish, blowhard persona ends up coming into every comedic character he has. I guess if it cashes the checks why add nuance? He does much of the same here and if you like that, than you’ll probably be entertained throughout. As far as Jon Heder, I won’t go as far as some reviews I’ve heard, saying the kid can’t act or cause laughs if his life depended on it, however, he doesn’t really succeed in his role. I think he worked really well with his adopted father, played with a one-note performance by William Fichtner, but that only lasts about five minutes. When he is alone and with Ferrell he goes into a geeky tantrum trying to prove his manhood, and it just doesn’t work.

On the other hand, the husband and wife team of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler is humorous as the competition. Their schemes are enjoyable and Arnett’s dimwittedness is a nice foil to Poehler’s take-charge emotional blackmailing of their sister into doing their dirty work. That sister, played by Jenna Fischer, is the best part of this film. She plays the cute yet shy girl well and her naïveté mixed with her ability to look the part of a sex-fiend or wholesome woman works perfectly in the role. I also enjoyed Romany Malco. No matter how much I don’t want to applaud one of the many “acting gay” performances, I thought his reactions were spot on. Maybe it was because he is the total opposite on the brilliant show “Weeds,” but when he just stares, shaking his head at what is set before him, I always chuckled.

The thing I can’t forgive is the horrible use of special effects on the skating sequences. All the cuts to extreme close-ups after long shots were annoying by themselves, (I know these actors can’t do the moves themselves—at least don’t go back and forth so much making it obvious), but when they tried digitally grafting Ferrell’s and Heder’s faces onto the faces of the real skaters I was literally cringing. The faces were stretched on and totally fake. Also, when the actors were participating in a difficult move, the movement became stilted and stop-motion-like from the amateurish wirework. When one was lifted into the air, the fast paced camerawork zoomed out and the actors slowly moved around until they touched back down to the ice. And then what do we get? Oh, yeah, a close-up of the actors to make sure we don’t forget they are the ones doing the skating. One more thing, too, is the overuse of the tv background footage of how they got there. This movie is the king of using clichés and gimmicks til the very end instead of spicing things up with an original idea.

Despite it all, though, I can’t give Blades of Glory a totally dismal mark because of one priceless scene. When Will Arnett and Will Ferrell are in a chase to get to the stadium on skates, I couldn’t stop laughing. Sure it was all normal and stupid when they put their skates on and race to the skating complex in the distance, but when they set foot onto pavement and the chase slows to a crawl as they try not to fall, I loved it. Granted, I would have liked them to do more with the escalator, (why show us their skates lodging in the grooves of the steps if they don’t get stuck at the top?), however, once the crossbow comes into play all is redeemed. The scene reminded me a lot of the backstreet brawl in Anchorman, another film I abhorred, and wouldn’t mind if I had the opportunity to see just that one scene again.

Blades of Glory 4/10 | ★ ½

photography:
[1] Will Ferrell as Chazz and Jon Heder as Jimmy in DreamWorks SKG and Paramount Pictures’ Blades of Glory – 2007
[2] Amy Poehler as Fairchild in Paramount Pictures’ Blades of Glory – 2007

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