Blades of Glory

dir: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
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Will Ferrell as an ice figure skater? That’s the comedy cinematic equivalent of crack cocaine, isn’t it?

The people who made the film probably sold it to the company with a text message to an executive saying exactly that: “w/about Ferrell on ice?” with probably a few smiley faces and LOLs thrown in for good measure.

The entire movie is predicated on the impression that ice skating is both gay in the sense that ‘gay’ is sometimes used as a synonym for lame, and gay in the sense that it is a sport best enjoyed by and participated in by gay people. So of course Ferrell plays his character of Chazz Michael Michaels as a rampantly hetero alcoholic sex addict lothario who never actually gets laid. And of course there are lots of scenes where men have to uncomfortably hold another man’s genitals either in their hands or close to their faces in order to win something important. What’s funnier than another man’s gonads being waved in your face?

His opponent Jimmy McElroy (Jon Heder, he of Napoleon Dynamite fame), and eventual partner on the ice, is the literal golden-haired child who is taking the role that Owen Wilson surely must have turned down due to his current bout of drug abuse and suicidal tendencies.

If something sounds vaguely familiar about any of these elements, it’s because you’ve seen this flick before, even if you haven’t seen it. It’s because the flick is essentially the same as any of the other comedies you’ve seen if they had Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell and any variations thereof in a vaguely sporting kind of context.

So if you’ve seen Zoolander, Anchorman, Dodgeball, Talledega Nights and the rest of their ilk, comfortably sit back and enjoy a very familiar experience.

There’s the old adage about familiarity breeding contempt, but more than likely it also breeds contentment, because that way the shmuck unwashed masses get exactly what they pay for when they shuffle into their local multiplex. When you go into a fast food place, you expect to get exactly the same meal you got last time, severed digits, cockroaches and all. Consistency is what the punters want. And this is a most burger and fries with that kind of experience.

Champions and rivals in the ponciest of sports, figure skaters Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy McElroy are banned from competition after an altercation at a medal ceremony. Exploiting a loophole in the surely rigorously policed bylaws of this pseudo-sport, they come back to compete as a team in the pairs competition, much to the chagrin of incestuous twins the Van Waldenbergs (husband and wife in real life Amy Poehler and Will Arnett).

Fill in the rest of the blanks. Jimmy is the graceful, elegant one of the pair, Chazz is the boorish, alcoholic oh so masculine butch lone wolf.

You’re not coming to a flick like this looking for characterisation, plot twists or deeply resonant themes of redemption and triumphing over adversity. Flicks like this are anti-thought, anti-intelligence escapades in pure entertainment for entertainment’s sake. If you’re hoping or expecting sparkling Rabelaisian wit or anything more than momentary chuckles that are forgotten as quickly as they occur, then you’re possibly more retarded than some of the characters on the screen.

But you couldn’t be, because you’re reading one of my reviews, and you’re a genius compared to the target audience envisaged for a movie such as this.

It’s easy to be cynical and scathing about flicks like this. Real easy. So easy in fact that to do anything apart from rip the shit out of it for being so incredibly lazy and blunt in its satire would be more merciful than any of these shysters deserves.

But, truth be told, it amused me and I enjoy these idiotic movies that always seem to star Will Ferrell or Ben Stiller, and always seem to have a cameo by Luke Wilson, being the dull Wilson brother, far more than I should, even sober. There is a place in this world for these cookie cutter flicks. They make their money, too, so they fund the excessive lifestyles of these repugnant people so that a) they have more money to spend on adopting African and Cambodian children, b) can buy all those Faberge eggs that go begging, unloved, in the vaults and safes of the mega-wealthy, and finally c) have a trickledown effect whereby 1 per cent of their revenues go towards funding flicks that would otherwise never get made.

So for every ten Blades of Glory, maybe you get one or two Stranger than Fictions, or Little Miss Sunshines, or Perfumes every other year. I can live with that kind of economics (even if I know for a fact that the relationship as I’ve depicted between the various productions is a complete fantasy).

The ice skating is ridiculous but entertaining, the gags are fairly tame but still chucklesque, Ferrell is an uncontrollable lunatic, Heder is wonderful because he really seems to believe in the majesty and the grandeur of what he’s doing and plays it completely earnest with boyish innocence aforethought.

The flick spends most of the time spinning its wheels and filling time between the completely perfunctory ‘championship’ stuff, but what does it matter? It’s a parody of a sports movie anyway, so how much it actually ‘honours’ the sport it parodies is perversely irrelevant. Although it does get many titans of the mighty sport of figure skating to make cameos, as if to pacify the diehard skating fans who may have come along by mistake.

At some bits you’re wondering, “If this is all about the ice skating, why is there so little ice skating in it?” Of course, if you’re like me, then the follow-up thought is, “but I hate ice skating anyway, so why would that bug me?”

It’s not great, it’s utterly disposable, but it can amuse in small doses. It is, after all, about skating, for fuckery’s sake, so expect nothing and get a little bit in return.

7 ways in which the only sport gayer than ice skating is rugby out of 10
“Not only did we embarrass Marky Mark, we let down the Funky Bunch.” – Blades of Glory