Take two male figure skaters, throw in a preposterous storyline, and you've got Blades of Glory, a surprisingly funny film that almost makes you forgive Will Ferrell for his back-to-back 2005 clunkers Kicking & Screaming and Bewitched. This time around, Ferrell eats the scenery in his role as a sex-addicted, cocky skating champ named Chazz Michael Michaels. When he gets into an on-podium fight with his nemesis and co-gold medallist Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite), both skaters are banned from competing in men's figure-skating events. Forever. Their fall from grace is brutal. Chazz is forced to work for a D-list skating show, while pampered Jimmy is disowned by his wealthy and cold-hearted adoptive father (excellently played by William Fichtner), who only wants to be around winners. When Jimmy points out that he tied for gold, his dad cruelly says, "If I wanted to share, I would've bought you a brother." Flash forward 3-1/2 years and Jimmy's No. 1 stalker Hector (Nick Swardson) says he's found a loophole. Jimmy's been banned from men's singles events, but there's nothing that says he can't compete in pairs skating. After a chance meeting with Chazz, mayhem ensues as the two rivals team up to go against the brother-and-sister team of Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (played by Will Arnett and his real-life wife, Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live and Mean Girls fame). The Van Waldenbergs will stop at nothing to beat the competition, even if that means literally beating up the competition. They have no qualms manipulating their sweet little sister (Jenna Fischer, The Office) to seduce both men to try to break up the team.
The finale will be no surprise to moviegoers who know that comedies like this aren't set up to make its leading men losers. But there is one brief skating sequence set in North Korea that will surprise (and shock) many viewers because of its brutality. Ferrell and Heder make a great comedy team. Though he has been accused of playing the same role since his breakthrough performance in Napoleon Dynamite and, to a certain extent, plays a similar type of role here, Heder is spot-on as Jimmy. He manages to convey innocence, bitterness, and longing--all within the span of a few seconds and while wearing a peacock unitard (You can understand why Hector is so enthralled with him). Look for guest appearances by real-life skating champs Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Nancy Kerrigan, and Sasha Cohen, who gets to sniff Chazz's jockstrap. --Jae-Ha Kim
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Stills from Blades of Glory (click for larger image)