Thursday, April 05, 2007

BLADES OF GLORY - lament for the hillarious cameo

, ANCHORMAN, DODGEBALL....and now BLADES OF GLORY. Identikit comedies, often born of SNL sketches, featuring a couple of crazy characters with 1970s hair-dos - under-dogs, odd-ball couples, or ego-maniacs that go through a redemptive narrative arc. In general, I get a kick out of these movies, but of late I've noticed a worrying tendency toward under-written scripts, lazy visual gags and lame cameos.

BLADES OF GLORY is a case in point. The film-makers assume that Will Ferrell and Jon Heder can simply stand in front of a camera in crazy hair-dos and induce laughter in the audience. And when Ferrell's rock'n'roll thowback and Heder's camp teen-idol start ice-skating - that really is funny. But as soon as we leave the ice-rink and enter into the actual story of the film, the witty one-liners are scarce and the whole project has the damp, mouldy smell of Formula and Star-Vehicle.

Heder and Ferrell's characters are champion ice-skaters and sworn enemies. Banned from competing in the singles competition after a televised punch-up, they are foreced to enter as the first all-male pairs couple - thus prompting a lot of odd-couple comedy and some funny training montages. A sub-plot has a sinister brother-and-sister skating team send their sweet sister to spy on the new all-male pair and to break up the new "couple" by sleeping with both of them. Naturally, we have a nice redemptive narrative arc for the obnoxious Ferrell character and a sweet romantic ending for Heder's character.

So far as it goes, BLADES OF GLORY is fine. The skating routines are funny, and the intervening plot is harmless if sadly unfunny. I just feel that film-makers are getting away with sub-par scripts by relying on audiences good-will toward the stars. For instance, this movie includes a cameo by Luke Wilson. He is not given a single funny line and his presence is, frankly, unnecessary. It's as if, just by having him there, the film-makers will remind us of cooler movies like OLD SCHOOL - making BLADES OF GLORY look funny by association. Similarly, the movie has a cameo of
Brian Boitano. Boitano doesn't SAY ANYTHING. But again, BLADES OF GLORY hi-jacks a little of the edginess of SOUTH PARK.

BLADES OF GLORY is on release in Canada, the US and the UK. It opens in Singapore, Argentina, Russia and Italy in April; in Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Denmark, Iceland, Mexico, Norway, Sweden and Brazil in May; in Australia in June; in Spain in July; in Finland and Turkey in August and in France on October 3rd.

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