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Glorious Blades

July 12, 2007

I don't know what possessed me to watch the male ice-dancing comedy Blades of Glory on the plane coming back from England a couple of days ago. Maybe I needed some lighthearted distraction after being thoroughly moved by the brilliant, stormy German film The Lives of Others. Maybe the recycled plane air was affecting my ability to think straight. Maybe one of the stewards had spiked my portion of vegetable cottage pie. Whatever the reason, it was a strange decision because there are few Hollywood actors (besides Jim Carey) I loathe more than Will Ferrell.

Until I saw Blades of Glory, I just couldn't understand what people saw in Ferrell. He always picks the most badly written movies. He overacts in each one. He doesn't bring anything original to his roles and just plays them all as stock characters. He's a pointless mixture of testosterone and bad posture.

Blades of Glory is as poorly scripted and full of cliches as any other Ferrell film. Yet it's so over the top that it actually manages to turn the stock machismo of Ferrell's average character on its head. The film tells the story of two rival competitive male figure skaters who, after being banned from the sport for misconduct, wind up coming together and competing as the world's first all-male figure skating duo. Ferrell does his usual stuff -- it's no great leap for him to play a sex addicted Harley Davidson type with a bad perm and a beer gut -- but his astute pairing with John Heder, who is in every way his opposite with a slim, graceful physique and lots of poofy blonde hair and lipgloss, lifts the movie out of the cornball pile and somewhere into the realm of other far-fetched but at least clever comedies like Zoolander and Strictly Ballroom.

The partnership is, as one of the duo's fabled ice routines is dubbed, "fire and ice." There's a disco rhythm to the film, as full of cheesy lines and formulaic scenes as it is. The thing that strikes me as most interesting is the extreme gayness of it all. I wander what Ferrell's fanbase of teenage boys (many of whom no doubt identify as straight or at least wouldn't dare to come out of the closet at this point in their lives) make of his cavorting about in skin-tight Lycra and sequins?

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