Blades of Glory
2007Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Cast: Will Arnett, Will Ferrell, Jon Heder
ean Girard, played by Sacha Baron Cohen in Talladega Nights, was perfect. I loved how he was delicately effeminate, which is true of Frenchmen 100% of the time, but could still break a grown man’s arm. I even liked his fat German boyfriend, and how gross they looked together. One scene, however, emerged from nowhere and threw even me for a loop: Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard making out for several uncomfortable seconds. If you can handle that, you’ll easily stomach Blades of Glory, for, alas, nothing here is anywhere near as wholly inappropriate.
With all of its Spandex and swanlike grace, the world of men’s ice-skating loudly squeals for SNL-style parody. Obviously Blades of Glory has a brilliant backdrop; the story is even more promising. Two men, after their violent rivalry gets them banned from competition forever, find a loophole that allows them to compete as a male/male pair, skating hand-to-crotch to the gentle strains of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (naturally, they don’t pick a different tune). Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell), a testosterone-laden toughie reared in the underground ice-rink slums of Detroit, must learn to cope with Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite), a fey child prodigy who wields a teddy bear. Distressingly, Ferrell looks like Heder’s father, not his rival/lover.
The main flaw of Blades of Glory, I venture to guess, is mediocre chemistry. Heder and Ferrell perform passably well, but rather than drawing chuckles, their physical spats generally evoke pity for Heder, whose bony frame is oft squashed beneath Ferrell’s oddly-placed fat rolls. As Chazz and Jimmy learn to get along all too quickly, another skating team is thrust into the storyline, played by Amy Poehler (shrill and largely unamusing) and Will Arnett (who earns my support just for appearing in Arrested Development, but is in truth the highlight of the film). Jenna Fischer (The Office) is adorable as Jimmy’s love interest, but her contrived behavior, although hilarious when used to explain her ridiculous bondage to her dead parents, is also unimaginatively used to spark hatred between Chazz and Jimmy. Her character is such a blatant vehicle, mind you, that it leads me to use words like ‘inconsistent’ and ‘counterintuitive’ in a review of a Frat Pack comedy. When Luke Wilson appeared on screen, the entire audience (including myself) agreeably broke into laughter, but then, he didn’t even do anything funny! And that’s basically all of the comedic characters; we certainly need more variety and random bystanders if we are to achieve the glorious heights of Anchorman.
I could list some delightful little non-sequiturs and idiosyncrasies (such as a skating routine that reinterprets the relationship between Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy). But these moments are better witnessed in the theater. My descriptions, although technically accurate, will be of no avail. And as Blades of Glory is rather flat anyway, you’re going to want to treasure those bits in all their spontaneity. Onto the homosexuality.
For a movie that unashamedly employs punch lines consisting of a man wearing a pink sweatshirt affixed with a silver star, Blades of Glory elicits very little response on my gaydar. Despite his delicate bone structure and obscenely queer clothes, Jimmy is immediately, obviously, and painfully heterosexual. For a while, Chazz shows a bit more ambiguity, choosing an unattractive female to slobber over during his Olympic routine, right before a shot of several other screaming busty fans. Bad taste—highly suspect, and this is the type of movie where irony means an effete twerp liking vagina and an unshaven slob sucking cock. But no. It’s not like I’m claiming to be underrepresented or even offended by the first of two gay characters—a deranged stalker who picks up Heder’s gay vocal patterns without goggling at Jenna Fischer. At least he’s funny, unlike the waste-of-space dance choreographer.
To sum up, the imagery is hardly controversial. In the Olympic stadium, the audience is upset by the display for about three seconds, before being distracted by the life-threatening athletic routine. When the men slide into a finale with their crotches banging against each other, for example, the suspense lies in intense ball-busting fortitude, not homoeroticism. My mom wields books by James Dobson about the impending threat of gay marriage, and she loved this movie. And, like, I don’t know what your priorities are, but that seems like a bad sign.
Blades of Glory is currently in wide release.