Blades of Glory
This review was written for the theatrical release of "Blades of Glory."
The blissfully silly "Blades of Glory" is one of those rare comedies that puts a goofy smile on your face with the premise alone -- Will Ferrell and Jon Heder playing the world's first competitive male pairs figure skaters -- and keeps it planted there right until its wacky finale.
Co-directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon, probably best known for those popular Geico caveman commercials, have made a highly agreeable feature debut capturing the energetic irreverence of early Farrelly brothers.
With Ferrell's legions of Ricky Bobby fans already primed to go along for the ride, the Paramount release should cut some glorious figures at the boxoffice for weeks to come.
Having already parodied NASCAR drivers and soccer dads, it was probably only a matter of time before Ferrell got around to skewering figure skaters, but he does it up right as Chazz Michael Michaels, a swaggering rocker on ice with grungy black hair who finds himself banned from the sport after getting into a brawl with his rival, the narcissistic but naive Jimmy MacElroy (Heder).
Stripped of their gold medals, Michaels and MacElroy are having a tough time surviving in the real world. The perpetually soused Chazz takes refuge under an evil wizard suit in a kids ice revue, while Jimmy gets a job in the shoe department of a sporting goods store.
But when a former stalker of Jimmy's (Nick Swardson) points out a loophole in the figure skating rule book, the two previous foes join forces, much to the chagrin of reigning sibling champs, the diabolical Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (real-life husband and wife Will Arnett and Amy Poehler).
Working from an inspired script credited to brothers Jeff Cox and Craig Cox, as well as John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky ("King of the Hill"), Speck and Gordon maintain a comfortable pace while coaxing terrific performances from their game cast.
In addition to the pitch-perfect Ferrell (in a role originally meant for Ben Stiller) and no-slouch Heder (making good on that "Napoleon Dynamite" promise), the rest of the cast cuts a comic swath both on and off the ice.
Also proving to be good sports are Scott Hamilton, Sasha Cohen, Nancy Kerrigan, Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill and Peggy Fleming, all on hand to deflate some of the self-seriousness known to go along with the turf.
Tech aspects are uniformly smoothly executed. Montreal's Olympic Stadium and architecturally prominent Habitat '67 are captured to notable effect by cinematographer Stefan Czapsky ("Ed Wood"), while veteran costume designer Julie Weiss has truly outdone herself with all those over-the-top Lycra creations, getting a little help from the Bob Mackie, Bill Hargate and Ray Aghayan houses.
Also credit skating choreographer Sarah Kawahara for routines that are anything but routine and "American Idol" runner-up Bo Bice, who puts the right anthemic arena rock spin on the titular closing theme song.
BLADES OF GLORY
DreamWorks Pictures presents a Red Hour/Smart Entertainment production
Directors: Will Speck & Josh Gordon
Screenwriters: Jeff Cox & Craig Cox and John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky
Story: Craig Cox & Jeff Cox & Busy Philipps
Producers: Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld, John Jacobs
Executive producer: Marty Ewing
Director of photography: Stefan Czapsky
Production designer: Stephen Lineweaver
Editor: Richard Pearson
Costume designer: Julie Weiss
Music: Theodore Shapiro
Chazz Michael Michaels: Will Ferrell
Jimmy MacElroy: Jon Heder
Stranz Van Waldenberg: Will Arnett
Fairchild Van Waldenberg: Amy Poehler
Coach: Craig T. Nelson
Katie Van Waldenberg: Jenna Fischer
Darren MacElroy: William Fichtner
Hector: Nick Swardson
Running time -- 94 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13