Eric D. Snider

Blades of Glory

Movie Review

Blades of Glory

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: B-

Released: March 30, 2007


Directed by:


On "Saturday Night Live," Will Ferrell was a utility player. He could play regular guys -- fathers, businessmen, doctors -- as well as bizarre characters, central or supporting. And in any case, he was nearly always funny. He improved almost every sketch he was in.

He's now doing for movies what he did for "SNL": He's always funny, even if the films he's in don't quite cut it. In "Blades of Glory," he plays Chazz Michael Michaels, a disgraced, bad-boy figure-skater (an "ice dancing sex tornado," someone calls him) who returns to competition by teaming up with his former rival to create the first-ever same-sex figure-skating pair. Ferrell is a comedic workhorse, as usual, with his mix of physical awkwardness and verbal non-sequiturs ("I could not love a human baby as much as I love this brush!" he says of his favorite hair-styling appliance), but the film is only slightly better than so-so. I think Ferrell is a genius, but there's only so much even a genius can do.

He's paired with Jon Heder as Jimmy MacElroy, a goody-two-shoes golden child who's like Shirley Temple on the ice (his signature move: the Galloping Peacock). As a young orphan, Jimmy was hand-picked by a millionaire (William Fichtner) to receive state-of-the-art training and be turned into a perfect figure skater. Now Jimmy is a wholesome, non-threatening naif who's appalled at the rogue behavior of his rival Chazz, and it's a tussle with him that gets them both tossed out of the World Winter Sports Games.

Jimmy's old coach (Craig T. Nelson) gets the idea of pairing Jimmy and Chazz. They've both been banned from singles competition, but not from pairs, and while there's never been a same-sex pair on the ice before, there's no rule against it. So why not! Especially when it will lead to giggly homoeroticism!

It's a silly idea, of course, and it's a silly movie, directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck (short-film makers working on their first feature) and written by at least four guys (including a couple "King of the Hill" scribes). It feels small and short, with an extremely simple plot -- the new Chazz/Jimmy pair faces competition from embittered sibling skaters Stranz (Will Arnett) and Fairchild (Amy Poehler) Van Waldenberg -- and a throwaway subplot in which the Van Waldenbergs coerce their sister Katie (Jenna Fischer) into spying on the boys to learn their routine. Jimmy gets a crush on Katie, but I get the feeling that angle is included only to remind us that Jimmy isn't gay. (For his part, Chazz is a sex addict. He goes to meetings and everything.)

There are plenty of laughs, mostly courtesy of Ferrell and the awesome husband-and-wife duo of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler. But a lot of potential laughs are ruined by something that strikes at the very heart of the movie's conceit: Ferrell and Heder are not a good pair. Specifically, Heder, while legendary as Napoleon Dynamite, simply lacks the skills to be a good straight man, or even a good actor. All of his set-ups for Ferrell's punch lines SOUND like set-ups, recited in an over-earnest way by an actor out of his depth. It's reminiscent of when an athlete (or Robert De Niro) appears on "SNL" and none of his lines sound natural because they're being read without nuance from cue cards.

Chazz is the type of character Ferrell excels at -- a self-important idiot who believes he is sexier than he is -- and I suspect Jimmy represents the apex of Heder's acting skills. As likable as the guy is, he's not in his league here. The film is modestly entertaining, but it would have been much funnier if Ferrell had had a more qualified partner to work with.

Grade: B-

Rated PG-13, a little profanity, some sexual vulgarity

1 hr., 32 min.

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This item has 13 comments

  1. jm says:

    Just before reading this review, I read another by Stephen Holder in the New York Times. It is interesting how opinions can differ, even about specific elements. Holder wrote that "Mr. Ferrell and Mr. Heder stake an early claim to being the comedy couple of the year," while Eric Snider wrote the opposite.

  2. hhhmmmm... says:

    I am saddened by your harshness to John Heder, although I can't exactly disagree with you. I actually liked him in Just Like Heaven.

    As for Will Ferrel...He's just annoying!

    Except in Anchorman

    and some parts of Stranger Than Fiction

    and maybe A Night At The Roxbury

    Shoot, I can't argue with you, Eric! You know all.

  3. hhhmmmm... says:

    And of course I didn't misspell Will Ferrell's name right there in my comment.

  4. Carrie says:

    Meh... My friend Spamberly and I laughed so hard throughout the movie. At times, I was laughing breathlessly and tearfully. There were a couple of hilarious, unexpected happenings, like the Iron Lotus video. I especially liked the crazed stalker fan. "I want to cut your skin off and wear it for my birthday." "Boom!"

  5. Dustin Fife says:

    Watching Will Arnett and Mrs. Will Arnett causes me to pine for "Arrested Development." Damn you America and your inability to recognize greatness.

  6. K-Man says:

    I laughed very hard at this movie, and I actually thought it was quite good. You are correct, however, about Jon Heder. I felt that he was good in the movie, but that someone else could have easily done just as good or better.

  7. Rusty says:

    "...Napoleon Dynamite, simply lacks the skills to be..."

    Clever Eric. Very clever.

  8. Marcos says:

    I agree with Eric, but would rewrite his last sentence as follows: The film is modestly entertaining, but it would have been much funnier if Ferrell had a qualified partner to work with.

  9. card says:

    Not me. It's not proper English with only one 'had.'

  10. Segway says:

    Check out the Will Arnett Research Project at

  11. Lozzi.... says:

    i love Jon Heder, if he weren't 29 and married. I'd marry him myself . But he'd have to be younger....much younger. Don't critise my Jonny boy!! I LOVE JON HEDER!!

  12. Marcos says:

    Card, you missed my point. When Eric laments that Ferrell didn't have a "more qualified" partner to work with, he is inadvertently suggesting that although Heder was a qualified partner, Ferrell needed a MORE qualified partner. Based on Eric's earlier description of Heder's deficiencies, however, he does not deserve to be called even a qualified partner.

  13. Dougrad says:

    I noticed that Jon Heder blinked a lot and shook his head a lot during this movie. He definitely isn't a good actor (and is probably still getting roles off of his "Napoleon Dynamite" popularity), but I thought he kept up well enough with Will Ferrell, thanks to Ferrell's excellent comedic chops and gift of improvisation.

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