BLADES OF GLORY
**** (out of 5)
March 30, 2007
Will Ferrell as CHAZZ MICHAEL MICHAELS
Jon Heder as JIMMY MACELROY
Will Arnett as STRANZ VAN WALDENBERG
Amy Poehler as FAIRCHILD VAN WALDENBERG
Jenna Fischer as KATIE VAN WALDENBERG
William Fichtner as DARREN MACELROY
Craig T. Nelson as COACH
Directed by: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Going into “Blades of Glory,” I knew that this movie was going to be either a work of genius or it would suck like no other movie has sucked in the history of time.
Fortunately, genius ruled the day. I laughed throughout the film, both at things I saw coming and also at things that came out of left field. “Blades of Glory” is easily one of the funniest movies of the year, and it’s going to be hard to beat on the comedy front.
The film is exactly what you would expect it to be. It’s Ricky Bobby and Napoleon Dynamite on ice, and in that sense it’s brilliant. Instead of trying to let each actor grow dramatically, it focused on their strengths. It tells the story of rival figure skaters banned from the sport who get back in the game by forming the first all-male figure skating pair.
The filmmakers really could have gone two ways with this movie. The tempting direction would have been to make a serious figure skating movie with some comic relief. Think of this direction as the “Stick It!” angle which honors the sports.
Fortunately, the filmmakers took it in the opposite direction. Instead of honoring the sport, they poked fun at the sport. Sure, it was in good humor, but it still makes fun of it. And because of this angle, I have more respect for the sport now. When the figure skating stars let the jokes fly, it’s heartwarming because it shows that they aren’t so full of themselves. I don’t discount the athleticism needed to do a triple lutz, but do we really need all that spandex and glitter?
The comedy just keeps coming at you throughout the picture. Yes, there are funny scenes and lines in the trailers, but there’s so much more in the film itself. Many of it is unexpected, totally inappropriate one-liners from Ferrell, but there’s also a lot of slapstick and awkward humor.
If “300” is going to be branded anti-Persian, most likely “Blades of Glory” is going to be labeled anti-gay. But the filmmakers go into the movie knowing this – and they just don’t care. It doesn’t shy away from the politically correct police, making jokes that should make Isaiah Washington proud. This is the film for all the people who loved that Snickers Super Bowl ad and were upset when it was pulled.
Will Ferrell has tried his hand at drama, most recently with the excellent reality-bending picture “Stranger Than Fiction.” The man’s dramatic work has a place, but his biggest strength is in comedy. From leading the fray in “Anchorman” to supporting other comedians in films like “Wedding Crashers,” Ferrell is making a name for himself as the guy who shouldn’t be a leading man who is actually getting the leading roles.
But even beyond the comedy talents of Ferrell and Heder, what made “Blades of Glory” such a fun movie was the supporting cast. Normally, I’ve found the supporting cast to be the saving grace of a film with weak leads. In the case of “Blades of Glory,” everyone is great. Ferrell and Heder hold their own as stars of the film, but having great comedic actors like Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, William Fichtner and Craig T. Nelson rounding out the ranks, you’ve got cinematic gold.
But the cast doesn’t end there. Nick Swardson, Andy Richter and Luke Wilson make some great cameos. Still, it’s Scott Hamilton who steals most of the laughs for me. It truly amazed me that the producers were able to get so many names from the figure skating world to lend themselves to this movie. And while I can imagine how they could have snookered Nancy Kerrigan, Dorothy Hamill and Brian Boitano to appear in a group scene, Hamilton is in the thick of the comedy. He pokes fun at himself as well as his sport, with plenty of good humor and his tongue firmly in his cheek.
“Blades of Glory” may never win an award for anything, but it will make you laugh.