Thursday, May 24, 2007

Blades of Glory

The verdict: Cracking stuff, Heder and Ferrell are a superb double-act, and this is laugh-out-loud funny.

The rating: 7/10

Man, just lately it seems Will Ferrell can do no wrong. He's top of PCMR's list of Hollywood funny men, with 'Talladega Nights' and 'Stranger Than Fiction' both providing seriously good entertainment in 2006. Next off the production line is a movie that sounds so formulaic that it just couldn't be any good.. right? The premise of 'Blades of Glory' is really quite simple: two men figure-skating as a pair. Now, there is the potential for a comedy turd here, and in the hands of the wrong cast, this might have been an offensive Rob Schneider vehicle waiting to happen. Thankfully, some inspired casting, an excellent script, and just the right dose of Ferrell's brand of improvisation have turned Blades of Glory into what might just be the best comedy of 2007.

Ferrell's co-star, Jon Heder, is probably best known for his iconic performance as 'Napoleon Dynamite', but here he plays the skating wunder-kind Jimmy MacIlroy. Jimmy was plucked from an orphanage age 4, adopted by a millionaire horse-trainer turned human-trainer, and given the kind of training montage Rocky would be seriously proud of.

Jimmy's main rival is Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell), a sex addicted tornado (his words) and the only champion figure skater to win an adult movie award. Whereas MacIlroy's routines are graceful and delicate, with Sarah Brightman's voice to accompany his twirls and pivots, Michaels' is all about tha masculinity, baby. His moves are all pelvic thrusts flame-throwing and fist-punching, and are more likely to be accompanied by something by Aerosmith than Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The two are naturally fierce rivals, but fall from grace when they are banned from the sport for fighting on the Olympic winner's podium, when they tie for a Gold medal. Disgraced, they each follow their own downward spiral until three and a half years later, when Jimmy's stalker points out that he has only been banned from figure skating in his own division... meaning pairs skating is an option.

A chance encounter between MacIlroy and Michaels leads to another public scrap, and this one is caught on tv by MacIlroy's former coach. When he sees these two idiots throwing each other round a room backstage in some regional ice-rink, he gets the idea to pair the two of them up, and things start kicking off from there.

These two characters couldn't be more different, but the spark between the two leads is excellent, and they work extremely well together. No-one does angry bickering quite as well as Ferrell, and for the first half of the movie, his scenes with Heder are just a constant sequence of jibes and digs, with not all of them making perfect sense. Heder holds his own though, and this performance bodes well for his future, which looked bleak when 'Benchwarmers' was released.

The bickering scenes in this one reminded of the scene in 'Talladega Nights' where Ferrell's Ricky Bobby sparred with Sacha Baron Cohen's gay French Nascar driver, and the two were barely restraining their genuine laughter. I got the same sense of enjoyment from the two main actors on this one.

Ferrell's moments of improvisation are dotted around this movie, but the script is also genuinely good, with many memorable moments - the sex addicts meeting springs to mind, or Chazz Michael Michaels describing his love for his hairbrush, or the JFK and Marilyn Monroe routine, all quality. Also, the direction and special effects are excellent, capturing the details of the performances on the ice brilliantly, including close-ups of the two leads disgusted faces during some of the more intinmate moments of their routines. This part of the comedy, which could have been a homophobic disaster, is subtle and never over-played.

There are some recognisable faces in the support cast too. Rob Corddry from the Daily Show has a wee part, Romany Malco from 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin' also turns up, and 'Arrested Development's Will Arnett has a great turn as one half of MacIlroy and Michaels' main rivals: the creepy and weird Stranz Van Waldenberg.

Ferrell seems to be working his way through popular sports for his source material at the moment, with NBA basketball next on the list. Semi-pro is out next year and sees Ferrell star alongside Woody Harrelson (excellent! - Ed) and André Benjamin, otherwise known as André 3000 from Outkast (hmmm - Ed). Heder's been busy lately too, with three more movies coming out this year. (And he can draw ligers... mwa haaa - Ed)

In the mean-time, PCMR is bigging up 'Blades of Glory' as a comedy of genuine quality, and wonders, how long can Ferrell's dynamite run last? He's overdue a turkey, but this ain't it. Two hearty thumbs-up from me and a recommendation to go see this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Superb Paddy
Karl Popper would be proud of you

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