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Blades of Glory (2007)
Dreamworks Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 8/28/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/14/2007
Back when Will Ferrell was on Saturday Night Live, if you had asked me if I thought that he would become a huge movie star, I probably would have responded with my typical, "Sure. Why not?" But, I would have never imagined that Ferrell would be at the forefront of a new movie of absurd cinematic comedies. With films like Anchorman and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Ferrell and his cohorts have created a revolution in silly movies which appear to be straightforward comedies or spoofs, but have an air of unpredictability where anything can happen. Ferrell’s latest entry into this canon is Blades of Glory.
Blades of Glory introduces us to two competing male figure skaters. Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) is a squeaky-clean pretty boy who was taken under the wing of his adopted father, Darren (William Fichtner), at a young age and trained to be a champion. Jimmy is very graceful on the ice, using many ballet-like moves. His constant rival is Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) who is skating's bad boy. Chazz dresses in leather and gyrates more than he skates. He loves the ladies and always speaks his mind. When the two tie for the gold medal in Stockholm, a fight breaks out on the podium. Because of this, and the injuries sustained by a mascot, both Jimmy and Chazz are stripped of their titles and banned from competition.
The story then jumps ahead three years. Jimmy is working in a sporting goods store and Chazz is skating in a show for children. Jimmy's biggest fan (Nick Swardson in show-stealing role) points out that the rules don't prevent Jimmy from skating in a pair's competition. Jimmy approaches his former coach (Craig T. Nelson) with this idea, but he's skeptical at first. But, then, they find Chazz and realize that no one will be expecting a male couple to compete. So, Jimmy and Chazz begin to train much to the chagrin of current champions Stranz (Will Arnett) and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Amy Poehler). Can Jimmy and Chazz, one fierce enemies, actually work together?
Let's face it, the idea of two men entering a pair's figure skating competition is a funny one, and most anyone could have made a movie which would have elicited some chuckles. But, in the hands of Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, producer Ben Stiller (who turned down the role of Chazz), and directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck, who created the Geico "Caveman" commercials, the movie goes down some paths that many would not have considered taking. As with the aforementioned Anchorman or Talladega Nights, the focus in Blades of Glory isn't necessarily on the story, as the plot and the entire script can be summed up rather easily. Instead the focus is on the characters and making them as eccentric as possible. Ferrell goes out of his way to make Chazz a letch, and Jimmy is annoying nice, naive, and positive. With these two characters leading the way, the film is filled with truly odd people, who say bizarre things and find themselves in crazy situations. Again, absurdity is the order of the hour, and this movie takes the classy sport of figure skating and puts it on its ear.
"Brave actor" is a term that I hear thrown around a lot and I'm sure that it means different things to different people. To me, it personifies an actor who has no inhibitions and no shame, and puts everything out there for the role. And, for my money, there is no braver actor than Will Ferrell. Love him or hate him, one has to admit that the man will apparently do just about anything for a laugh. And his performance in Blades of Glory is no exception. Be it his bizarre movements while ice skating, or the scene in which he wears nothing but two towels (one wrapped around his waist and the other around his head), the man is a tour de force. Chazz's Jim Morrion-like hair gives Ferrell a different look, and this has obviously freed him to be zanier than usual. I don't think of Ferrell as a ladies man, but he plays Chazz as a convincing lothario, and this blowhard sounds like Ferrell's many other characters, as he spouts outrageous lines. There's no doubt that the other cast members are very good here, although there isn't enough of Arnett and Poehler, but this is Ferrell's film.
I'm certainly not opposed to intellectual comedies, but my taste runs more towards silliness. And if you're a fan of silly movies, then Blades of Glory is for you. The movie isn't quite as good as some of Ferrell's other recent work, but if you want to see a movie where the actors are clearly having a great time, then this is it. Each scene offers at least one good laugh and Ferrell is at the top of his game here. And Jon Heder has come a long was since Napoleon Dynamite and he's more than a match for Ferrell. This is one comedy which doesn't deserve an icy reception.
Blades of Glory does a triple-axle onto DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has come to DVD in two separate releases, one full-frame and the other widescreen. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks very good, as the image is sharp and clear, showing only a small amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The colorful costumes look great on this transfer, most notably the reds and blues. Many scenes take place in ice rinks, and these very white scenes shows no major video noise or artifacting. The DVD sports a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The dynamic range is well-balanced, as the actors are never outdone by the crowd noise. However, that crowd noise does sound fine as it streams from the rear speakers. The stereo and subwoofer effects are fine as well.
The Blades of Glory DVD contains a nice assortment of extras. "Return to Glory: The Making of Blades" (15 minutes) is a semi-serious making-of featurette where the cast and crew (including Ben Stiller) talk about their participation in the film. The actors talk about their characters and there is a lot of on-set footage. We get to see the actors training for their roles in "Celebrities on Thin Ice" (6 mintues). Julie Weiss talks about the film's outlandish clothing in "Cooler Than Ice: The Super-Sexy Costumes of Skating" (5 minutes). We get a very weird, not serious interview with "Arnett & Poehler: A Family Affair" (6 minutes). On the other hand, former skater Scott Hamilton tries to be serious in "20 Questions with Scott Hamilton" (5 minutes). Nick Swardson appear in-character in "Hector: Portrait of a Psycho Fan" (3 minutes). The DVD contains 3 DELETED SCENES which run about 9 minutes. All of these are good, but one contains a brilliant plot twist which should have stayed in the film. We also get 9 minutes of ALTERNATE TAKES, most of which may as well be deleted scenes. There are very funny moments here. However, the GAG REEL (2 minutes) is mostly just skating flubs. "Moviefone Unscripted with Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, and Will Arnett" (10 minutes) has the actors asking one another questions and trying to give serious answers. The "MTV Interstitials", of which there are three, are simply TV spots, and nothing new. The extras are rounded out by a MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Blades of Glory" by Bo Bice, and three PHOTO GALLERIES.
On May 20, 2008, Paramount Home Entertainment brought Blades of Glory to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the disc offers an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a minute amount of grain in some of the brighter scenes and no defects from the source material. The image is very sharp and detailed, creating a very life-like image at times, that has a real sense of depth. The colors look very good and the image is never too dark or too bright. I noted no video noise or similar defects. The Blu-ray contains a Linear PCM 5.1 Lossless audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a steady 6.9 Mbps. This track provides consistently clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and show nice speaker separation. The surround sound effects during the performances are very good, and we can always hear Nick Swardson's character yelling, "Jimmy!" Given the nature of the film, there aren't a lot of opportunities for subwoofer effects here. Overall, a nice transfer and it's great that Paramount finally released this one.
The extras on the Blu-ray Disc are the same as those found on the Blades of Glory DVD.
Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long