Blades of Glory (2007)

(On TV, August 2015) I have a soft spot for comedies that take on a relatively specialized subject and then try to milk as many laughs out of it.  Blades of Glory is recognizably “a Will Ferrell film”, which is to say a broad mainstream comedy that relies on Ferrell’s particular brand of humor.  And yet, it executes the usual formula competently, can depend on a couple of good performances and even features Montréal as Montréal. Ferrell is less annoying than usual in a role that benefits from machismo arrogance rather than simply his usual man-child persona.  (The film itself also gets a lot of comic mileage in confronting bad-boy macho aesthetics with those of figure ice-skating, and not all of it is mean-spirited.)  Fortunately, the jokes work, while Will Arnett and Amy Poehler make for a good pair of antagonists.  The ice-skate chase through Montréal is funnier if you have an idea of the city’s geography (unsurprising hint: it’s all over the place).  The cast includes a number of famous and infamous figure skaters, and the work required to transform Ferrel and Jon Heder in world-class skaters seems curiously effective.  While Blades of Glory isn’t much more than an assembly-line mainstream Hollywood comedy, it’s well-tuned for its purpose and works reliably well as getting its smiles.  (Useless personal trivia: When I travelled to Los Angeles in 2006, my only encounter with Hollywood filmmaking in the wild came at the Los Angeles Stadium, when I saw a few trailers tagged as being from “Blades of Glory”.  I find it a bit ironic that it would be for a film that features Montréal so prominently… which is where I boarded the plane for Los Angeles. )

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