Blades of Glory skates on thin material
The directors and writers responsible for “Blades of Glory” are all virtual newcomers making their feature film debut (good for them), and it shows. The film lacks wit, satire, or anything original in its punchlines. From a technical standpoint, the special effects are plainly obvious and the editing is nothing special. But credit them for bagging Will Ferrell to star, he’s just a guy who can’t say “no” to a script. The idea for a movie isn’t a bad one– two guys on ice– but describing it as an extended “Saturday Night Live” skit would be to give the film too much credit. (Unless you’re referencing the last 10 years or so of generally forgettable SNL shows.)
The pair of stars the film earns is for the two primary ice-skating competition scenes that contain the majority of the films’ laughs.
Ferrell’s Chazz Michael Michaels is a sex-addicted, self destructive vainglorious bad boy who is paired with Jimmy McElroy (Jon Heder), an effeminate nice guy. With both skaters trying to resurrect their failing careers, it can’t help but being fire and ice… on ice.
Ferrell is comfortable and occasionally hilarious in his self-unaware crassness played like a first cousin of Ricky Bobby (his character in “Talladega Nights”), while Heder struggles to get beyond his one-note “Napoleon Dynamite” persona.
Real life couple Will Arnett and Amy Poehler play the seething competitors and do the best with the caricatures their roles require. Craig T. Nelson (as the odd couple’s coach) and Jenna Fischer (as the enemy’s nice sister) bring some credible normalcy to their cardboard characters.
There’s nothing really memorable about “Blades of “Glory.” No quotable lines or heartfelt Farrelly brothers-type sentiment that would lend the film some measure of depth. No, the film is content to just dial down the jokes and keep them revolving around one particular below the belt region. (At least one Internet site, www.kids-in-mind.com , calculates the sex related material to be roughly one reference per minute.) Parents should be cautioned that in the MPAA ratings criteria, the gratuity of the material is less consequential than specific images or the “F-word,” which would demand an “R” rating. (Notice how the “B” word has worked its way into nearly every movie that is marketed to kids over eight years of age.)
Admittedly, there’s little substantive difference between dumb comedies like the more consistently funny “Wild Hogs” and “Blades of Glory,” and it boils down to which makes you laugh more while provoking less guilt. We’ll keep tolerating Ferrell as long as he throws in a “Stranger Than Fiction” or “Elf” every now and again.
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor and language, a violent comic image, and some drug references.
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