‘Blades of Glory’ provides tear jerking laughs

From writers Craig Cox, Jeff Cox, and Busy Philipps, “Blades of Glory” rouses the kind of laughter that strengthens the abdomen. Were the rest of the animal kingdom capable of it, they would likely be on the floor chuckling and snorting alongside us.

Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) is the macho swaggering rock star of the figure skating sport, rivaled only by the blonde and mop-topped former child prodigy with all the style and grace of a ballet dancer; Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite). When the two are tied at the World Championships, their longstanding rivalry erupts into a brawl on the ice which results in them both being stripped of their gold medals and banned from men’s single skating for life. Now, three-and-a-half years later, Chazz has been fired from his role in a theatre on ice production for kids, and Jimmy has transitioned from an eccentric on the ice to an eccentric second string shoe salesman in a sporting goods shop.

Their saving grace proves to be one of Jimmy’s crazed and stalking male fans. Despite a restraining order, he tracks Jimmy down to point out a loophole in the rulebook which would allow Jimmy back into the sport as part of a pair. With the qualifying competition not far away, Jimmy goes on the hunt for a partner. His former coach is more than skeptical at first and suggests that he give up on skating, that is, until he sees footage of what is supposed to be a fight between Chazz and Jimmy, but looks more like a laughable acrobatic dance between the two. After much goading, Chazz and Jimmy reluctantly train together for a chance to return to the rink as the first ever male/male figure skating pair.

The jury is still out on whether or not there are any actual loopholes in The United States Figure Skating Association’s rule book allowing ousted skaters back into the sport, but assuming that the association adheres to the same laws as the International Skating Union (and in all likelihood they do), there will be no boy on boy or girl on girl action on the ice.  Rule number 302, subsection 5, specifically states, “The composition of a pair must be one Lady and one Man.” One might look to the Gay Games or the Ice Skating Institute’s programs for “similar pairs” consisting of two skaters of the same gender.

Fodder for a cause or just creative humor, “Blades” is a comic success relying more on the humor in the believable idiosyncrasies of its characters rather than over the top physical comedy.

Camoes from the sport’s elite, including: Brian Boitano, Nancy Kerrigan, Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, Sasha Cohen, and Scott Hamilton lends an air of respect for the sport that might otherwise be noticeably absent from the film.

Costuming was no triviality here; with campy-chic creations constructed by the sultan of sequins, rajah of rhinestones himself, Bob Mackie. Not without a few slips, predictable and annoying “ball bashing” has become all too common in any comedy featuring men, and to a nauseating degree here. The 6.0 scoring system by which the pairs are scored in the film is virtually extinct in reality, with the USFSA adopting the ISU’s more complex total element scoring. Stranz (Will Arnett) and Fairchild (Amy Poehler) Van Waldenberg’s performance scenes seem to have been cut, if filmed at all, which detracts from the climactic and triumphant final performance of our protagonists. Given that the Van Waldenbergs’ costumes had more comedic effect than their rivals’, this is especially disappointing.

The actors/comedians are at their best, with what I call “queer star” performances from Romany Malco (40 Year Old Virgin) as the diva choreographer, and Nick Swardson (The Benchwarmers) as a lunatic adult fan with a crush on Jimmy. If the nonstop laughs aren’t enough of a lure, then Jon Heder in his unitard with transparent mesh ought to do the trick.

Genre: Comedy and Sports
Runtime: 1hr 33min
Release: March 30, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image, and some drug references
Paramount Pictures

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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