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BLADES OF GLORY

SYNOPSIS:
When rival figure skaters Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) end up in a brawl on the pedestal at the World Championships, they are stripped of their gold medals and banned from ever competing as figure skaters. Three-and-a-half years on, they've found a loophole that will allow them to compete: if they can put aside their differences and skate together - as a pair.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's an outrageously bold concept that is every bit as funny in execution as the premise promises. With the brilliant opposite pairing of Jon Heder and Will Ferrell, whose comic styles are as diverse as their appearances, this wacky comedy simply glides over the ice, never falling in the cracks or tumbling off course. Heder plays the angelic-faced blonde-mopped former child protégée ('You look like a 15 year old girl, but not hot'), and Ferrell is the sex addicted Tsunami of Swagger, thrown unwillingly together in the rink to showcase their figure skating talents.

Smart writing fleshes out the premise to incorporate a winning-obsessed brother/sister skating duo, a stalker-fan, a crazy coach with an agenda and a romance with a very sweet heart. Of course, plenty is made of the boy/boy combination of Heder's pretty-boy Jimmy MacElroy and Ferrell's coarse Chazz Michael Michaels, which result in the inevitable crutch jokes. Most of the characters are obsessed about something and Coach (Craig T. Nelson) is no exception. Since his famed, highly dangerous Iron Lotus routine resulted in decapitation on the ice in North Korea, he has dreamed of seeing it performed, and with Jimmy and Chazz in his clutches, here is his chance.

Will Arnett and Amy Poehler are wonderfully funny as the cut-throat skating champions who recline on polar bear rugs and fling guilt trips on their sweet sister Katie, played by the lovely Jenna Fischer. Katie and Jimmy's infatuation with each other begins sweetly, although their relationship has to endure major (and hilarious) interference, which results in a sex-addict meeting and seduction scene. Bad taste moments include Ferrell flaunting nought but body hair, excess flesh and a teeny animal-print sarong and Heder scooping up a roll of trashed toilet paper with his tongue. I chuckled at Chazz's many outlandish malapropisms ('They laughed at Louis Armstrong when he said he was going to the moon and now he's laughing at them from up there'). The ice-sequences featuring moves never seen before (nor will ever be seen again) are well done and the final splashy routine with our duo wearing glittering sci-fi-themed costumes ends on a starry high. This is wacky, low-brow comedy that's cool and hot.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Cloaked in the mantle of a sports movie (complete with losing-champs'-triumphant-return against-the-odds-and-on-fire storyline) Blades of Glory is pure comedic fluff. The film happily foils all attempts at our finding meaning and goes for the comedy jugular. In some respects this is wise, since figure skating would not draw the guffawing crowds Will Ferrell will, if you get my icy drift. Of course this is vulgar and kitsch, of course it is the take-away of movie meals, but it never pretends to be otherwise. And it's executed with confidence and verve.

The script relies on the comic business that can be teased out of the basic, seemingly inert concept of two men joining up as a figure skating pair despite their enmity. But in fact it's not a bad comic idea if you think about it ... and even better if you don't. The fact that the film manages to hang on for 93 minutes without sagging for more than a few moments is testament to the team's talents. When it does sag, it's because the script takes our characters off the ice or out of training. Out in the real world, the humour is harder to generate and sustain, but I'm surprised it does it at all.

Will Ferrell sniffed cinematic gold with Talladega Nights, where NASCAR racing was the sporting backdrop. Here he dives into another sporting spoof, and he has turned my slightly snooty nosed disdain of his work to not so grudging respect. But he mustn't lose sight of the fact that truly great comics have a deal more heart than these last two projects show. If he can build genuine emotion into his comedy, he could be a contender.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

BLADES OF GLORY (M)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Will Ferrell, John Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, William Fichtner, Craig T. Nelson, Romany Malco

PRODUCER: Stuart Cornfeld, John Jacobs, Ben Stiller

DIRECTOR: Josh Gordon, Will Speck

SCRIPT: Jeff Cox, Craig Cox

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stefan Czapsky

EDITOR: Richard Pearson

MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen J. Lineweaver

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures Australia

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 21, 2007







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