Apr 042007
 
Authors: Jeff Schwartz

Blades of Glory:

***1/2 out of *****

Will Ferrell’s character in “Blades of Glory,” Chazz Michael Michaels, is a pompous, sex-addicted figure skater who has a propensity for outlandish behavior and speaks in a throaty timbre that sounds like Clint Eastwood in a porno movie.

In other words, Michaels is a variation on a type of character that Ferrell has become known for: the arrogant but ultimately loveable dumbass.

So, even though Michaels doesn’t exactly represent a step forward for Ferrell as an actor (like Harold Crick in “Stranger than Fiction”), he is a consistently funny character that allows “Blades of Glory” to transcend its conventional premise.

The movie begins with Michaels and his effeminate rival Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) getting into a fight after they are both awarded a gold medal at the Olympics.

Their behavior is enough to prompt the Figure Skating Federation to ban both Michaels and MacElroy from ever competing again in the Men’s Singles category.

There is, of course, a loophole. Despite the fact that they are both men, Michaels and MacElroy can compete in the pair’s category. After some convincing from MacElroy’s old coach (Craig T. Nelson), both Michaels and MacElroy agree to become partners.

If Michaels and MacElroy want to win the gold, though, they will have to out-skate the brother-sister team of Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler), a rather incestuous duo who have always dominated the pair’s category.

Most of the humor of the movie comes from Ferrell’s increasingly bizarre boasts and non sequiturs, while Heder plays the straight man.

The pair have some hilarious exchanges, like when MacElroy brags about beating Michaels in a prior competition, and Michaels indignantly replies, “I was on Quaaludes when that happened. I don’t even remember it.”

It is Ferrell’s particular gift to make a line that might sound false coming from any other actor’s mouth into something unique and funny.

However, the uproarious part in the movie arguably belongs to Heder and Jenna Fischer (of “The Office”), who plays Katie Van Waldenberg, Stanz and Fairchild’s put-upon younger sister whom MacElroy has a crush on.

In a scene that owes something to “Cyrano de Bergerac,” MacElroy and Katie have a conversation over the phone. The twist is that MacElroy is being told what to say by Michaels, while Katie is being told what to say by her brother and sister.

The result is a hilarious exchange loaded with naughty innuendo that is worth the price of admission all on its own.

“Blades of Glory” isn’t quite as funny as the Ferrell-scripted “Anchorman” or “Talladega Nights,” but it has plenty of great moments, including an ending that, in its sheer randomness, rivals the Bollywood musical number that closes “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

The result is a light and humorous movie that affirms Ferrell’s status as one of the funniest people in Hollywood.

Movie reviewer Jeff Schwartz can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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