Blades of Glory

Blades of Glory
Director: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
Screenplay: Jeff Cox &Craig Cox and John Altschuler & David Krinsky
Stars: Will Ferrell (Chazz Michael Michaels), Jon Heder (Jimmy MacElroy), Will Arnett (Stranz Van Waldenberg), Amy Poehler (Fairchild Van Waldenberg), Jenna Fischer (Katie Van Waldenberg), William Fichtner (Darren MacElroy), Craig T. Nelson (Coach), Romany Malco (Jesse), Nick Swardson (Hector)MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year of Release: 2007
Country: U.S.
Blades of Glory DVD
Blades of GloryIt isn't surprising to see Ben Stiller listed as the first producer on Blades of Glory since the film is, at its heart, Zoolander on ice. Like Zoolander, Blades of Glory is an outsized satire of alpha-dog masculinity trying to assert itself in a stereotypically feminized endeavor, with the ultimate reconciliation of violent one-upmanship with male bonding providing a heartfelt coda that it both embraces and can't help but make fun of at the same time. And, also like Zoolander, Blades of Glory is roughly twice as good as a movie with such a thin comedic premise deserves to be.

The rivals in Blades of Glory are the top dogs of male individual figure-skating: Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder), a pampered pretty boy who has been trained since he was four to be a classically elegant and graceful skater, and Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell), who is best described as Ted Nugent in ice skates. Each character is essentially summarized by his coiffure, with Jimmy's perfectly maintained head of fluffy golden layers contrasting with Chazz's dark, rock-star mane. Whereas Jimmy embodies all the feminine elements of figure skating that make most beer-swilling guys cringe, Chazz manages to make the sport somehow seem tough. Billed as “sex on ice,” Chazz flaunts his swagger with the kind of myopic, reckless abandon that only Will Ferrell can make endearing.

After Jimmy and Chazz get in a scuffle after being forced to share a gold medal at the Olympics, they are banned from the sport for life (their hearing features cameos by familiar figure-skating stars like Brian Boitano and Nancy Kerrigan). Their only chance to get back on the ice is to exploit a loophole in the ban that allows them compete in paired figure-skating. But, because they are so close to the next competition deadline, they have no choice but to team up as a pair, making them the first male-male figure skating pair in the history of the sport. This leads, not surprisingly, to all kinds of too-close-for-comfort skating moments that tend to make straight men squirm, and to its credit the film milks these jokes for all they're worth and then drops them for other comedic territory.

Jimmy and Chazz's chief rivals (besides each other) are the brother-and-sister skating pair of Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler), who enlist their pretty, but downtrodden younger sister, Katie (Jenna Fischer, essentially doing another version of The Office's Pam) to spy for them. In the process, Katie and Jimmy strike up a blossoming romance, which leads to a hilariously sloppy kiss over Sno Cones (apparently, neither one of them has ever kissed someone before).

As would be expected, though, it is Ferrell who commands the screen. At this point in his career, he's perfected the art of the dim-witted likable lothario, whether his name be Ron Burgundy, Ricky Bobby, or Chazz Michael Michaels. Dropping his voice a few octaves and cavorting his flabby frame with misplaced pride, Ferrell oozes across the screen like the world's skankiest porn star (his character, in fact, has won an Adult Movie Award and is an avowed sex addict), dropping malapropisms and only slightly logical insults along the way. Heder is an excellent foil for Ferrell, not only because he is so physically dissimilar, but because he excels at projecting disgust and irritation, which Ferrell is all too happy to enflame.

Of course, in all “odd couple” pairings, the mismatched antagonists eventually find common ground, and about halfway through Blades of Glory trades in the comedy of aggression for a more domesticated comedy of male bonding, with Jimmy and Chazz becoming best friends before romantic rivalry temporarily drives them apart. That we actually care about their friendship is some kind of achievement for a movie of this sort, where anything resembling human emotion is usually subverted to the easy joke or the gross-out gag. There are certainly plenty of both in Blades of Glory, but even its recycling of Queen's fabulously campy Flash Gordon theme song for the big finale isn't enough to overwhelm the fact that we genuinely want to see this ridiculous twosome take home the gold.

Blades of Glory DVD
Blades of Glory is also available in full-screen DVD and widescreen HD-DVD editions.
Aspect Ratio1.85:1
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • SubtitlesFrench, Spanish, French
  • “Return to Glory: The Making of Blades” featurette
  • “Celebrities on Thin Ice” featurette
  • “Cooler Than Ice: The Super-Sexy Costumes of Skating” featurette
  • “Arnett & Poehler: A Family Affair” featurette
  • “20 Questions With Scott Hamilton” featurette
  • “Hector: Portrait of a Psychofan” featurette
  • Deleted scenes
  • Bo Rice “Blades of Glory” music video
  • Gag reel
  • Alternate takes
  • “Moviefone Unscripted” with Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, and Will Arnett
  • MTV interstitials
  • Photo galleries
  • DistributorDreamWorks Home Entertainment
    Release DateAugust 28, 2007

    No complaints here about the widescreen anamorphic transfer of Blades of Glory. The image is appropriately sharp and well-detailed, and the film's numerous outrageous costumes are as wildly colorful as you would expect them to be. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack envelops you in audience cheers during the skating scenes and also makes the most of the often hilarious use of music, whether it be a sappy Aerosmith power ballad or Queen's immortal “Flash's Theme.”
    There's no audio commentary, so we don't get to listen to directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck pontificate about the film's underlying meanings, but there are plenty of featurettes to keep Blades of Glory fans busy in-between repeated screenings (and, as I have learned while reviewing this disc, Blades of Glory is a movie that easily bears multiple viewings). The 15-minute “Return to Glory: The Making of Blades” is a making-of featurette that is really not at all about the making of the film, but rather the humor of comical interviews with directors Speck and Gordon, stars Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, and Jenna Fischer, and producers Stuart Cornfeld and Ben Stiller. Some of the other featurettes are a little more serious and informative, including “Celebrities on Thin Ice” (6 min), which is about how training and rigging effects made the film's stars look like pros; “Cooler Than Ice: The Super-Sexy Costumes of Skating” (4 min.), in which costume designer Julie Weiss discusses her fashion inspirations; and “20 Questions With Scott Hamilton,” which is a genuine interview with the 1984 gold medalist. Things get goofy again in the interviews in “Arnett & Poehler: A Family Affair” (6 min.) and “Hector: Portrait of a Psychofan” (3 min.), which is as funny as it is creepy. There are four deleted scenes (about 10 minutes total, all presented in anamorphic widescreen), including one that explains both the meaning behind Chazz's “Lone Wolf” tattoo and his aggression toward Jimmy. There is a 2-minute gag reel and nearly 9 minutes of alternate takes from the movie, some of which are really funny, but none of which are as funny as the (un)intentionally ridiculous Bo Rice “Blades of Glory” music video. There is also an episode of “Moviefone Unscripted” with Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, and Will Arnett (9 min.), three MTV ads for the film (but no original theatrical trailer), and three photo galleries.

    Copyright ©2007 James Kendrick

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    All images copyright © DreamWorks Home Entertainment

    Overall Rating: (3)

    James Kendrick

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