Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Blades Of Glory

Illustration for article titled Blades Of Glory

At this point, it isn't really an insult to call Will Ferrell's comedies thin, formulaic, and haphazardly constructed, because that's more or less the case every time out. Nothing in the storytelling is all that clever, the camera does only what's necessary to keep the action in frame, and the individual gags don't build on each other as they would in a good farce. In fact, it's really hard to see what the directors of Ferrell comedies do, besides calling "Action!" and raiding the craft-services table. All Ferrell needs is a subject fat enough to improvise around—Christmas (Elf), NASCAR (Talladega Nights), local news (Anchorman)—and a plot that won't get in the way. To that end, Blades Of Glory makes for a model Ferrell vehicle, as it tackles the glittery, diva-filled world of figure skating with all the respect the Winter Games' least essential non-sport deserves. Some of the jokes are about skating, others are about whatever random thing happened to pop into Ferrell's head with the cameras rolling, and just about all of it is funny.

Ferrell and a feather-haired Jon Heder play rival champions with radically different styles. A former orphan trained relentlessly from an early age, Heder has been groomed into a model of technical, bloodless perfection on ice. Like skating's answer to Bode Miller, Ferrell is a self-styled rebel and "sex addict" who makes up in testosterone what he lacks in prissy grace. After the two come to blows on the medal stand during an awards ceremony, the sport's federation bans them both for life. But through a loophole in the rules book, they're allowed to compete in the pairs competition, so they join forces to become the first all-male pairs team. Their reemergence on the scene draws the ire of pairs darlings Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, who scheme to bring them down, Tonya Harding style.

So bring on the gay-panic jokes, right? It's painful to imagine what the makers of Wild Hogs might have done with Blades Of Glory, but here, the less-than-masculine idea of male pairs is handled without anyone recoiling or making "Not that there's anything wrong with that…" declarations. The filmmakers' solution is just to dive into the frilly sport without embarrassment, which leads to transcendently silly sequences like Ferrell and Heder's interpretation of Aerosmith's love theme from Armageddon. Loaded with ringers in the supporting cast, including Craig T. Nelson, The Office's Jenna Fischer, and Romany Malco, Blades Of Glory does what a good Ferrell vehicle is supposed to do—it strings enough good bits together to keep the tissue-paper story from tearing, and it comes in at 90 minutes. And that's as close to sticking the landing as it's going to get.