Saturday, March 31, 2007

New Movie Review: "Blades of Glory"

Will Ferrell makes funny movies. He makes successful movies. He is part of the influential "Frat Pack". So can his new movie, "Blades of Glory", live up to his reputation?

The movie follows Ferrell's and Jon Heder's ice skaters, once rivals, now teammates, Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy McEnvoy. They hate each other, but in order to skate once more after being banned from the sport, the need to become pairs skaters. Ferrell's typical boorish persona plays well against Heder's innocence. Chazz is a lot more self-destructive than Ferrell's typical characters, and since his fall happens early in the movie, the Ferrell egotistical, dumber than he looks portrayal never really plays out. It is more like Chazz is an original character with Ferrell's stamp on it than a character that Ferrell created himself. CMM is still funny, but he is a little toned down from Ron Burgandy or Ricky Bobby.

Joining Heder and Ferrell are Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live) , their pairs skating competitors. The married couple play brother and sister in the movie, and they use their real life chemistry to bring an undercurrent of weirdness to the screen. Arnett and Poehler play their villains like typical comedic roles, with over-the-top scheming and evil plans that don't sound quite that serious. They also tend to wear outlandish costumes both on and off the ice. At one point, their figure skating routine is an "Ode to Hip-Hop" and it is quite the visual gag to see blonde-haired Poehler and lanky Arnett try to be "ghetto" on the ice. Jenna Fischer (The Office) plays the sister of Arnett and Poehler, who is manipulated by the duo through guilt. Fischer's character is essential Pam Beesley on ice, a woman who is made to be plain and not really strong enough to break out of the rut that Fate handed her. In certain parts of the movie, Fischer actually uses some body language that I have seen her use on The Office, which is an interesting choice, if it was a conscious one.

Also joining the cast is Craig T. Nelson, as the singularly named Coach. Of course, Nelson played Coach on TV, in Coach. That makes for a long running joke that is neither really funny or really serious. There are little cameos sprinkled throughout the movie, from real life figure skaters to other popular comedians. Unlike other movies with Ferrell, these cameos aren't funnny because it is a cameo, merely, they are funny because they actually serve the joke.

While BOG isn't a laugh-a-minute like Ferrell's previous movies, it was less random and more coherent. Ferrell isn't the main attraction due to the great supporting cast. The movie is fun and zippy and has the right amount of silliness to make it an enjoyable, if not completely ridiculous, film.

3 1/2 Nancy Kerrigan references out of 5.

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