Well, I suppose the best word to describe Blades of Glory is idiotic. Lookit: It’s as though Will Ferrell (who can actually act — I’ve seen it) told a somewhat hilarious joke several years ago, and — emboldened by the laughter he elicited — decided to tell the joke again. Only louder. And instead of finding a new joke, he just kept telling the same one, changing the characters and the situations around slightly and increasing the volume of his voice with each repetition. And, at a certain point, hearing the same joke gets beyond annoying — it starts to make your ears bleed. And it’s not like Jon Heder offers any reprieve. He’s the guy who never managed to tell an amusing joke, but everyone felt so sorry for him that they laughed anyway. And now the guy has extracted every last goddamn ounce out of that pity laugh, and somewhere along the line, that sympathy we once felt has turned to spite. Honestly, I just want to shake the motherfucking doofus out of him and stick his nose in it like a goddamn dog that has shat on the carpet.
Now that I think of it, I’ve actually seen dog shit with more character than Blades of Glory (granted, it was shaped like the Virgin Mary). Indeed, this movie is only intermittently funny if you’ve never seen a comedy, Will Ferrell, or “American’s Funniest Home” videos before. In other words, Encino Man would’ve chuckled a bit, but only if Pauly Shore sat on him until he did. Actually, strike that — Blades of Glory does occasionally work, but only while Ferrell is on the ice, stroking his nipples, smelling Heder’s junk, and doing that blustery bravado thing he does, to the sound of Queen’s “Flash,” Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,” or Billy Squire’s “Stroke.” But, the classic rock goes a long way toward making it palatable. At best, the humor is fleeting, and the cartoonish absurdity of it all (jet-propelled ice skates?) has a way of completely pulling you out of the moment. What does it say, after all, when the most intriguing part of a movie is trying to identify the faces of the stunt doubles?
The problem starts with the premise — pairing two men in a doubles figure skating competition in an effort to parody a sport that’s already one huge self-parody. You know why George Bush impressionists aren’t that popular? Because it’s impossible to create a caricature of a self-caricature — how much dumber would you have to act to hit home the point that our president is a grade-A moron without drooling on your collar and wallowing in your own feces? And where’s the humor in calling figure skating a gay sport when there’s no popular opinion to confront that assumption? Who the hell is going to be offended or shocked? The legions of burly straight men with beer guts and handlebar moustaches who fill arenas to see guys in spandex and codpieces twirl around to Celine Dion numbers? If there’s anything to mine here it might be the underlying heteroeroticism in the sport — I can see taking two guys in one-pieces and mocking their secret obsessions with NASCAR and subscriptions to Titties & Ammo. I mean, at least it’s something.
Whatever: Blades of Glory concerns two figure skaters with opposing personalities. Jimmy MacElroy (Heder) was pulled out of an orphanage and molded by his billionaire adoptive father and a few space-age contraptions into the prototypical figure skater — he’s an effete, wispy doofus who plays with goddamn peacocks. Then there is Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell), who was raised on the streets of Detroit and learned to skate in Motown’s sewer system. He’s pretty much Frank the Tank, John Waite, and Steve Perry rolled into one: A bombastic blowhard who shoots fire out of his hands, makes sweet love to the ladies, and drinks until he pukes. Oh, and he shows his belly a lot. For the lady folk.
Right off the bat, the two tie for the gold medal at the Olympics, which leads to a fracas on the ice. The mascot gets torched, and MacElroy and Michaels are banned from figure skating competition for life. Or at least until the next Olympics roll around, when they decide to give up their menial jobs and exploit a loophole that allows them to team up in the doubles competition: Boy and Boy, Fire and Ice, Classic Rock and Classical, The Guy with the Package and the Guy who has to Smell It. Ho hmph.
So, enter they do, with Craig T. Nelson serving as their coach, which mostly means that he calls the two skaters “ladies,” and asks them to stop their incessant whining. Their main rival in the doubles competition are the Van Waldenberg siblings (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, both wasted talent in these roles), the evil duo with the inevitable incestuous vibe, whose little wallflower sister, Katie (the severely miscast Jenna Fischer) falls for MacElroy over snow cones and an awkward French kiss. Dumb, lifeless, unimaginative, insipid hijinks ensue, mostly involving running the one joke (figure skaters are gay!) into the ground and playing up Michaels’ sex addiction, which the Van Waldenbergs’ exploit to drive a wedge between MacElroy and Michaels.
There are some decent lines (mostly in the first 10 minutes), and Ferrell’s hostile bravado works with diminishing returns (he’d be a decent supporting character in a movie like, say, Better off Dead), but Blades of Glory is mostly the sort of lazy, facile comedy you’d expect from a team of monkeys with a typewriter (here played by Jeff and Craig Cox, John Altschuler, and Dave Krinsky, from Busy Phillips’ story idea) and an unhealthy obsession with the smell of their own genitalia. And, of course, there is also the expected trick stunt — the Iron Lotus — to rouse the finale, so to speak. Unfortunately, it isn’t half as imaginative as Thornton Melon’s Triple Lindy in Back to School except that here, at least, there is the threat of decapitation.
Sadly, it remains only a threat. Sadder still, there’s no Def Leppard.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.
Blades of Glory / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | April 1, 2007 | Comments ()