WILL Ferrell may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he must be the funniest man in Hollywood today.
And the off-beat, often ludicrously over-the-top actor has found the right vehicle for his talents and hits the right notes for belly-laughs in Blades of Glory, a kind of Dodgeball meets Zoolander send-up of the ultra-competitive world of ice skating, but without Ben Stiller.
Stiller was, in fact, earmarked for the role that eventually went to Ferrell of an overweight, drunken, metal-loving figure skater, but turned it down because he felt it was too similar and too soon after the work he had done in Dodgeball. But the makers will not have been at all disappointed with the final product provided by Ferrell, with former Saturday Night Live buddy Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite, The Benchwarmers) as an excellent comic foil.
Heder and Ferrell play disgraced champion ice-skaters who are banned for life for a brawl on the winner’s podium at a major event, but find a loophole that allows them to compete in the pairs events, and the mortal enemies end up being the first-ever male-male partnership. The results are uproarious, as the two wow the crowds with stunts that have never been seen before in their hilariously choreographed dance-skating routines.
The sub-plot of an evil brother and sister skating duo who will stop at nothing to derail Ferrell and Heder’s comeback, which threatens their own world title hopes, helps capture the spirit of the often treacherously competitive world of tournament ice-skating. There is even a brief cameo by Nancy Kerrigan, the ice-skater who was violently attacked by the husband of fellow competitor Tonya Harding in a conspiracy to injure her.
Heder plays the more effeminate foil – “you still look like you’re a 15-year-old girl, but not hot,” Ferrell’s character says – to the Ferrell macho alter-ego – “The only man to have held the titles of porn star of the year and ice-skater of the year,” he says proudly.
The chemistry between the two, bouncing jokes off each other with the ease that their characters toss each other through the air, is what makes the film entertaining and more than a good laugh. ***