Diet Coke at Burger King.
Braille on drive-through ATMs.
There’s very little more useless than a review of a Will Ferrell movie. After all, you knew whether you’d like it or not as soon as you heard the concept. Either you immediately pictured Will Ferrell in glittery spandex flipping around the ice bellowing things like “a whale’s vagina” and chuckled a bit or you went on a cranky rant about how Will Ferrell isn’t funny. Now, I’m a Will Ferrell fan. He’s a funny guy who will do anything for a laugh. Sure, he isn’t what you’d call highbrow, but in the end, does it really matter as long as he delivers the comedy? Blades of Glory is exactly what you think. It’s not as good as Anchorman (but then, few things are), but it’s loads better than Kicking and Screaming (and what isn’t?). If you liked
Quick synopsis: Will Ferrell plays Chazz Michael Michaels, a boozy sex addicted figure skater, who is banned from the sport when he and his chief rival, the improbably coiffed Jimmy MacElroy (Napoleon Dynamite), get into a brouhaha on the medal stand. Banned from the sport, they return as the first all-male pairs team. Along the way, they each have a character arc or something. There are no twists. We don’t find out in the third act that Ferrell has been the ghost of Keyser Soze the whole time, although in the end they do skate to perhaps the greatest terrible song ever. It’s not a great movie. It doesn’t challenge the audience. You don’t leave the theatre going, “Ohhhh, THAT’S the meaning of life.” It does, however, make you laugh. And that’s all that really matters.
It’s entirely possible that you’re thinking of seeing this movie not because of Ferrell, but rather because Jon Heder is in it. I’m not quite sure what to do with this information. I mean, I thought Napoleon Dynamite was entertaining. For some reason, you’re only allowed to have one of two opinions of that movie: either it’s a work of unparalleled genius, or it’s overrated crap. I’m of the opinion that the movie lies somewhere in between: it’s a paper-thin premise stretched to the breaking point but it also has its moments, and most of those are due to Heder. Anyway, it’s not like the sidekick of a Will Ferrell movie needs to do a whole lot: as long as Heder can roll with the dead-eyed maniac’s improvisation, he’ll do fine. And he does.
Other than the briefest of cameos, this movie is entirely free of the usual suspects. There’s no Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson. From the supporting cast, the standouts include Will Arnett, late of Arrested Development¸ as one of the film’s villains, Jenna Fischer of The Office as Heder’s love interest, and Nick Swardson as a creepy stalker who apparently learned his trade from Phil Hartman in that classic SNL sketch about the Mr. Belvedere fan club. I’m hoping that all three are noticed by the right people and get movie deals, so long as Jenna Fischer stays on The Office.
The focus of the film is Ferrell. Chazz Michael Michaels fits in with the Ferrell pattern of characters, not in the superficial, “Oh, he’s just playing himself” kind of way, but rather what the character is at his core that connects him to the others, specifically that Ferrell is mocking the same kind of person. Throughout his career, Ferrell’s most memorable characters have nearly always been a sort of alpha-male doofus, a guy completely unaware of how shallow and stupid he is, which ties in with the current trend of what it means to be a man. In previous generations, masculinity was defined a great deal by stoicism. The “real man” never let anything get under his skin. These days, “real men” are shown feeling rather than thinking, abandoning logic to emotionally lash out. They tend to go with their guts, and when it all comes down to it, our guts have shit for brains. Mocking this phenomenon is a current trend in comedy, from Ferrell to Stephen Colbert.
Many critics have declared Ferrell unfunny, but it’s difficult to say definitively what’s funny and what isn’t. There’s probably nothing, except maybe Airplane! that everyone can agree on. Multiple gaps, from personal taste to generational taste, separate us all. For example, I’m reading Live From New York¸ a book patched together from interviews all about Saturday Night Live. Everyone goes on and on about what a genius John Belushi was, and I’ll be honest; I just don’t see it. When I’m watching the old SNLs, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray are the ones that stand out for me. Belushi? Sure, his impression of Joe Cocker was dead on, but it just wasn’t funny. And for that matter, what were the Blues Brothers? They weren’t what they should have been, that is to say two white guys trying to sing the blues without ever having experienced any sort of hardship (leading to songs like, “My Mutual Fund is Underperforming” and “Are You Sure this Coke isn’t Baby Laxative?”). Instead, it really looked like they were trying to be good musicians. Maybe the joke is that they’re not in on the joke? I don’t know. My point is that Baby Boomers love Belushi and Gen X seems to love Will Ferrell. Is one of them definitely better than the other? I know it’s sacrilegious, but I’d take Ferrell over Belushi ten times out of ten.
There you have it, Blades of Glory in a nutshell. I can guarantee one thing: this review will not change a single person’s opinion of the film, nor their desire to see it. To mangle a phrase, I’m not trying to ice skate uphill. I’m no Chazz Michael Michaels.