Autopilot no longer describes Will Ferrell’s sad streak of sports comedies. That suggests an effort to get off the ground before letting a computer take over. At this point, he’s just launching drones.
Who else would knowingly do two movies in two years playing two different sex-mad lunkheads named Chazz? Nonsensical Mad Lib stories, flabby swagger, random obsessions. Even the cameos not related to figure skating — the sport sent up in Blades of Glory — are predictable.
Ferrell and the movie aren’t entirely terrible, just terribly lazy. It’s a dashed-off comedy with little more than what’s expected from its basic premise. Snickers are bound to poke through when Ferrell resembles a walking senior picture from 1976. And two scenes (the aftermath of one dangerous routine and a supreme-slapstick chase on skates) suggest wild energy the script otherwise lacks. Everything is pre-fab, complete with cues for Comedy Central cuts to commercial.
Chazz Michael Michaels’ greasy lustfulness makes him a natural rival for chaste, sheltered Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder). Orphaned Jimmy was handpicked as a child for his skills and pushed toward perfection, while porn star/poet Chazz sought an escape from Detroit’s sewer-skating scene.
In Stockholm, Jimmy skates to Bocelli while Chazz slides and glides along to Billy — Squier, that is, with “The Stroke.” After tying for the gold, verbal banter ends in physical battery and the men are forever banished from competitive skating.
Years later, a drunken Chazz must settle for the backstage groupies at a Grublets on Ice kids’ show and Jimmy, cut off by his adopted father, is an overqualified skate salesman. Upset at chasing a has-been, Jimmy’s stalker points out a loophole that would allow for pairs competition. Trying to poach partners from Grublets, Jimmy has another televised brawl with Chazz. In it, a disgraced coach (Craig T. Nelson) sees the graceful sorts of lifts and tosses that would look beautiful on ice.
Chazz and Jimmy are reluctant to re-capture fame as figure skating’s first male pair. But their debut (with an amusing song choice) overshadows the field’s stars Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and real-life wife Amy Poehler), who scheme to split up the new duo.
Crowd-pleasing choreography of Chazz and Jimmy is described as 95-percent adrenaline and three percent BS. Flip the proportion, and it’s how Blades of Glory presents its comedy. Oh look, there’s Janet Reno’s scowl and Ron Burgundy’s scalawag voice. Heder as an effeminate virgin? You don’t say. Only Arnett and Poehler break through with any sort of interesting characters; there is a true psychosis to their motivations and the costumes and themes for their routines are hysterical.
Theirs are the only bits funny for more than 30 seconds at a time, and co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck (making a leap from commercials) clearly need to work on their pacing. They spend too much time letting Ferrell be a triple klutz on triple lutzes, but his sports shtick is glazed over.