Blades of Glory : Not as bad as I thought it would be

I was reticent to go with an old friend of mine to watch Blades of Glory, the newest Will Farrell movie. To be honest, it’s taken me a while to warm up to Farrell, once a staple of Saturday Night Live, the show that seemed to jump the shark just as he arrived. But whereas Jimmy Fallon and Chris Katan have been totally unable to make things work cinema wise, Farrell has been among the most successful at making a transition from SNL to the screen. Even skeptical people such as myself (and I will admit we are few and far between) who hated the cheerleader routine he was known for, must acknowledge that Farrell and only Farrell could carry the comedic roles of Ron Burgundy and Ricky Bobby. Farrell is likable in these roles for his expressions, mannerisms and overall energy.

It’s likely that Farrell saved Blades. Although I’m sure others could have played the over-the-top, flamboyant sex-crazed figure skater Chazz Michael Michaels, Farrell added energy to the film that. Certainly John Heder, who stars across from him as Jimmy McElroy, a wimpish, waif of a skater, was entirely replaceable. Heder has still not managed to break from the Napoleon Dynamite persona of a helpless loser and I suspect that his one trick pony will break its leg soon.

But back to the movie, and I’m no Roger Ebert so I wont give you a detailed review but more a quick opinion: Will Farrell saved this movie. It’s over-the-top, which is fine, but over-the-top also in a way that is aggravating too. The characters are cartoonish to a fault, including Will Arnett and real-life wife Amy Poehler who play a brother and sister figure skating tandem who must defend their gold medal from Michaels and McElroy. At the same time they also serve as a vehicle for satirizing one of the world’s most pompous and ridiculous sports.  Arnett, who was brilliant as Gob on Arrested Development can’t be blamed too much. It wasn’t a comedy that centered around his character and there wasn’t too much to work with to begin with except to do his best playing an outlandish, moronic and vindictive skater. Poehler is obnoxious as she often is when playing someone (I wonder if you’re still reading this by now it must be hard to follow).

I don’t want to give too much of it away, but I will have to get back to my point that Will Farrell did a great job with what he could. He made the movie watchable. When Farrell’s character, facing banishment from an international figure skating organization tells Nancy Kerrigan, who plays an official, that she’s given him an “official boner” I laughed very hard. Surely it’s fun to see someone talk about erections around America’s former sweetheart, but it’s even better coming from the obliviously self-absorbed Will Farrell. He makes the movie by morphing into a ridiculous and ridiculously likable character, albeit one who is shallow and vain. I would imagine it’s fun to work with him on movies and Heder, who has one year in Hollywood left, tops, did his best to compliment him.

Overall, the movie is watchable with a little extra something. It’s not desperate to make you laugh, but more so to keep you a little giddy. Anyone who wants the story to adhere to the laws of physics or the protocol of figure skating within a comedic frame shouldn’t watch it. You probably shouldn’t expect that from a comedy to begin with. Another thing that makes it watchable is the cast of personalities that appear, albeit briefly in the film like Craig T. Nelson of Coach Fame, Kerrigan and other former Olympic ice skaters such as Canadian Brian Boitano. American skater Sasha Cohen even smells Will Farrell’s athletic supporter for extra shock value.

So if you have ten bucks and you’re not going to demand something that will absolutely blow you out of the water like Anchorman or Talladega Nights, but will serve more like Old School, this one might be worth it for you. I think Will Farrell has made something of himself outside of SNL, which is more than a whole decade of that show’s talent can say. Unfortunately for Heder, 365 days from now he may not even be able to land a gig with the perenially bad Rob Schneider.

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