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Blades of Glory > the film April 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Movies.
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bladesofglory.jpg  So much about figure skating needs sending up. The creepiness of siblings skating as lovers, why not as Marilyn Monroe and JFK? The smarmy Olympic mascots, why not assassinate a few? “Blades of Glory” doesn’t have to show much more than truth to yield comedy. Where it does fall down, and that’s a mandatory deduction, is in its view of sexuality.

The film is homophobic, in exactly the same form and degree that skating is homophobic: It wallows in swish while assiduously denying that anyone involved might be swish. So skating fans and former skaters will feel right at home.

Will Ferrell is Chazz Michael Michaels, the loutish champ challenged by androgynous Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder), complete with peacock-glove costume in hommage to Johnny Weir. In fact, Jimmy’s getup and demeanor are hardly more extreme than Weir’s, except for the peacock feathers on his butt. At the World Wintersport Games, the rivals tie for gold, then come to blows over podium space, and are summarily thrown out of men’s singles skating.

Enter Jimmy’s most obsessive fan (played to sticky perfection by Nick Swardson), who in studying the rule book finds a crucial loophole: His hero is barred from singles, but not from pairs. All he has to do is find a partner and he’s back in the game! Jimmy hies himself off to the nearest rink, where Chazz is relegated to skating in “Grublets on Ice.” When the Grublets’ manager evicts Jimmy for writing girl skaters’ numbers in his little black book, Jimmy’s coach points out the rules don’t prohibit Jimmy partnering with Chazz, alas, in real life this isn’t true.

With that, the ex-rivals are set to make history and beat brother-sister pair champs Stranz and Fairchild van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, both evilly spot-on). They’ll need Coach’s signature move, the “Iron Lotus.” It’s a sort of throw death drop, and it’s really cool: The smaller partner performs it in the air, while the supporting partner performs it on the ground. If only Coach’s lady skaters had survived . . .

Chazz and Jimmy don’t like grabbing each other in lifts or skating cheek to cheek, and that’s fine: They’re rivals, and they hate each other. And it’s not like Jimmy couldn’t be a metrosexual straight skater, there are plenty out there. But having them vie for the Waldenbergs’ maltreated sister Katie starts to pile the denial too high. Putting an out gay character here somewhere, a la Sacha Baron Cohen in “Talladega Nights”, would have done this film wonders. And while Ferrell, with his rubbery gut, is intrinsically hilarious as a skater, he needs a foil as sharp as Baron Cohen or Owen Wilson, sharper than Heder, however plausible a skater, can provide.

As it is, Arnett and Poehler amp up the action whenever they appear. He’s stiff and dumb; she’s as brittle as a 45-year-old bulimic. It’s hysterical when they drop their on-ice personas to prod nerdy Jimmy and Katie into steamy phone sex. Luke Wilson has a nice turn as the leader of a self-help group to break Chazz’s sex addiction.

A huge roster of former Olympians does stunt skating and cameos, from Brian Boitano, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill and Nancy Kerrigan as outraged officials to the commentating team of Scott Hamilton and Jim Lampley, whose partner chemistry compares favorably to that of the film’s stars. All that’s missing is Dick Button to criticize somebody’s layback spin. But is this what it’s come to for poor Sasha Cohen, to sniff jockstraps thrown by Will Ferrell?

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