Apr 2, 2007


I have become a fan of Will Ferrell.
I loved Talladega Nights: the Legend of Ricky Bobby. That movie I remember as being slightly more intellectual, if you will, less concerned with crotches and gross out humor and more with skewering Nascar nation and Jesus lovers.
Blades of Glory skewers the cheesiness that sports broadcasting has become, particularly so in the inherently cheesy sport of ice skating. Those puke inducing segments where they present the life of the athlete in question with the corny music and the prescribed setback and the triumph of the will and the quest for the gold and all that crap, are taken to town here with such a vengeance that it makes you want to cry out in thanks.
Also, any comedy that begins to the insufferably gooey strains of Andrea Bocelli (which immediately generated hearty chuckles from the audience) lets you know that its sardonic heart is in the right place.
But what I love about these Will Ferrell comedies is the character he creates. Basically it's always a variation on a bumbling, moronic overgrown American baby who deep inside is a good guy but whose excessive self-regard always gets in his way (the brilliant Anchorman, Ricky Bobby, Old School). Here Ferrell, happily overweight, wearing a wig a la David Cassidy, plays Chazz Michael Michaels, some sort of absurd ice skater with the heart and bad taste of a rocker. A perfect take on those male ice skaters that insist on looking manly and skating to Aerosmith, as if that is going to disabuse people of the received notion that figure skating is a sport for sissies.
Ferrell loves to show how out of shape he is. There is always a sequence where he strips and runs like a maniac in his underwear. Here he bares his flabby torso in a scene where he has a serious conversation and you can't take your eyes off the gelatinous, hairy flab of his gut. He is today's quintessential representative of America's everyman. And he doesn't let everyman off the hook that easily. Bless him.
His comedies take some of the rituals of American culture and really show them for what they are, full of hot air, full of unbridled self-regard, of a contented ignorance, at which Will Ferrell excels. There are some really funny bits where he misuses words (it bottles the mind!). What nails the jokes is his utter cluelessness that he is wrong and his sincere conviction that he is right. When he is caught being wrong, he always finds a way to spin himself out of his predicament with super lame excuses. It is no wonder that Ferrell delivers one of the most dead on impersonations of George Bush. Except that Ferrell's characters have a certain innocent charm. He is never a malicious bully, and he is always true to himself. He is not mean spirited.
I have to say there will be no justice in the movie world if Julie Weiss, the costume designer, doesn't get at least a nomination for an Oscar. The ingenious, outrageous costumes generate huge laughs by themselves. The sight of Ferrell wearing Ugg boots and an elastic band on his forehead will not leave my consciousness any time soon, let alone the sight of him wearing spangly unitards with fire motifs.
Jon Heder is great as his deadpan sidekick and their partnership is lovely. Heder plays a virginal, innocent skater, who still believes in getting the gold no matter what, and as you must know by now, the two former rivals end up skating together quite memorably in the pairs competition.
The routines on the ice are incredibly funny, the skating sequences are super well made and the stars do some of their own skating, which is thrilling. There are some really funny, dexterous verbal jokes and much slapsticky stuff that is puerile but extremely funny (such as a chase sequence on skates, yet not on the ice). The movie is a riot.
I love the fact that this is, as should be, the number one movie in America. It is healthy and good that we laugh with Will Ferrell at our pathetic folly.

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