Rival figure-skaters Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Heder) are banned from the ice after a dust-up on the awards podium. Tired of their subsequent dead-end jobs, their only hope is to unite in glacial harmony and win as ice-dancing's only male pair.
The Frat Pack seem to be working their way through a check-list of silly sports — after DodgeBall, Talladega Nights and now this, we’re due a comedy about competitive speed-walking. But despite sticking firmly to formula, there’s little denying that the Blades Of Glory team have hit paydirt. In the absurdity stakes, it’s hard to trump figure-skating, a sombre athletic pursuit which involves much girly twirling and dancing about on ice.
Of course, after Will Ferrell and Jon Heder are done, it doesn’t bear much relation to any sport practiced on this planet. Ferrell is blustering boor Chazz Michael Michaels, an “ice-devouring sex tornado” with an addiction to the dramatic — his act usually climaxes with jets of flame. Countering him is Heder as orphan Jimmy MacElroy, who shares the delicate artistic soul of the actor’s previous alter ego, Napoleon Dynamite — his solo routine involves a winsome peacock hand-puppet.
It’s business as usual for the pair of them: alpha-male-slob schtick and lunatic one-liners from Ferrell, silly preening and wrinkled noses from Heder. But familiarity sometimes breeds content. For the most part their insults and non-sequiturs are funny and their characters likeable, more than you can say for Talladega Nights’ Ricky Bobby or anything Heder’s done since Dynamite.
The best bits take place on the ice. The sight of two men gyrating around on frozen water is inherently funny. It’s funnier still set to the score from Flash Gordon, with one partner lifting the other by the crotch while both are clad in faux-chrome Lycra bodysuits.
What Blades Of Glory lacks is the relentless hit rate of a DodgeBall or Zoolander, its two most obvious influences. Both those films had a clutch of brilliantly zany supporting characters to prop up the stars, but sadly there’s no Patches O’Houlihan or Mugatu here. A small subplot involving an obsessed fan stalking Heder is pretty feeble, while, unforgivably, Arrested Development’s Will Arnett is badly underused as a villain a hair away from Gob Bluth, his perma-smirking magician in AD. Arnett does at least appear in one of the movie’s best scenes: a low-speed chase across town which demonstrates why ice-skates shouldn’t be worn off-rink.
Formula rules, as Ferrell applies his schtick to another sport. But theres enough silly spectacle and eye-popping costumes to compensate.