Will Ferrell has made a career out of playing arrogant nitwits who are knocked off their thrones and fight to reclaim them. In Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, he played the titular role, a self-centered, witless news reporter. In Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Ferrell once again played the title role, a moronic, egotistical race car driver. In his latest film Blades of Glory he plays a pompous, idiotic figure skater, but at least the movie isn't named after him this time. And unlike his previous two movies, in this one he shares the lead role with Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder.
Jimmy MacElroy (Heder) and Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) are the top two men's figure skaters in the world. As heated rivals, the two argue every chance they get, criticizing each other and their vastly different techniques. While effeminate Jimmy is praised for his flawless execution of complicated moves, bad-boy Chazz wows the judges with his ingenious improvisation on the ice. At a recent competition, Jimmy and Chazz duke it out during the awards ceremony, thus disgracing themselves and the sport. Both men are stripped of their medals and banned from figure skating for life.
Fast forward three and a half years later. Both men are in meaningless jobs and hating their lives, until they discover a loophole: although they're banned from men's singles, they can still enter pairs skating. Can Chazz and Jimmy put aside their mutual hatred for each other and reclaim their dignity and place at the top?
Therein lies one of the main sources of humor for Blades of Glory – two men participating in a division that's historically for a man and woman (in reality, this loophole in the regulations doesn't exist). Pairs figure skating is often considered romantic, sometimes even sensual. There are many jokes then that involve Chazz and Jimmy struggling to overcome not only their hatred for each other, but also their homophobia. For example, one scene features Chazz lifting Jimmy in the air, holding him by the crotch and looking rather uncomfortable. If you get offended by those kinds of jokes, then Blades of Glory is not for you. But I and most of the audience thought it was funny and laughed heartily during such scenes.
While Blades of Glory was funny, it wasn't nearly as brilliant as Talladega Nights. What's great about Talladega Nights was that much of the humor lay in the ad-libbed dialog from the cast. It's a lot more quotable, and to me, it becomes more memorable. Blades of Glory relied more on visual humor, such as the blunders during the practice sessions between Jimmy and Chazz, but it wasn't enough to sustain the laughter. At the same time however, Blades of Glory is funnier than Anchorman, which had a few too many dull moments.
Ferrell and Heder make an interesting duo, though I don't think they have as much chemistry as Ferrell did with his co-stars in Anchorman. Perhaps it's because Heder isn't a part of the comedic "frat pack". Perhaps it's because of the age difference between the two comedians. Or maybe it's simply because Heder isn't as funny as Ferrell's past co-stars. As for Ferrell, as I mentioned earlier, he doesn't stray far from the formula that has made him big in comedy. Chazz Michael Michaels is no different from Ron Burgundy or Ricky Bobby. And yes, the audience is once again treated to nauseating scenes of Ferrell in his underwear, but this time we also see him wearing nothing but a skimpy towel that threatens to fall off at any time.
In spite of its flaws, Blades of Glory is still a funny and enjoyable movie. It's the type you'd watch with a group of buddies on a weekend night prior to dinner and drinks. Don't expect it to be as funny as Talladega Nights, but expect the same tried-and-true Will Ferrell formula for comedy.
Title: Blades of Glory
Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Starring Cast: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder