New Will Ferrell film never heats up
BY JASON BLAIR
BLADES OF GLORY: Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. Written by Craig and Jeff Cox. Cinematography, Stefan Kzapsky. Music, Theodore Shapiro. Starring Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, William Fichtner and Rob Corddry. Paramount Pictures, 2007. PG-13. 93 minutes. 44111
|Peacocks … on … Ice!J on Heder in Blades of Glory|
Having triumphed last year with Stranger than Fiction, a clever but overlooked comedy about a loser who learns how to live, Will Ferrell returns with Blades of Glory, a film about a loser who happens to ice skate. Essentially Dodgeball on ice — the worst of the recent dumb-guys-in-charge films, according to my scorecard — Blades of Glory is about the male/male figure skating team of Ferrell and Jon Heder, who join forces when they’re individually banned from competition. The film is Heder’s funniest work since Napoleon Dynamite, while at the same time a career low for Ferrell, whose debased, sex-addicted Chazz Michael Michaels is only funny when he’s bickering with Jimmy MacElroy (Heder). That’s because Chazz is a retread, a recycled cartoon: He’s the ice-skating version of Ricky Bobby, Ferrell’s imbecile character in Talladega Nights. Both are incredibly stupid narcissists who make us laugh (well, mostly) for everything they don’t understand.
In fact, the success of Blades of Glory can probably be attributed to the juggernaut of Talladega rather than the merits of the current film, which has dominated box office receipts since its release. Ferrell has become what Ben Stiller was five years ago: bland, predictable and about to be overexposed. (Stiller, when offered the role of Chazz, passed.) Watching Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Amy Poehler (SNL) play an evil figure-skating duo has merits — not to mention the pleasure of seeing Jenna Fischer, from The Office — but Blades of Glory is another Ferrell vehicle, and it’s a seriously bad career move to see him throwing up on himself again (literally). Even Ferrell’s juvenile supporters, who at this point must comprise the gross of his fan base, will grow bored with him after a few more misses like the stone-cold Blades of Glory.
Now I’d like to tell you a story. If you listen closely, you might just become very rich.
A few years ago, two twentysomething brothers in L.A. got tired of serving lattes to wealthy studio executives. They wrote a script treatment of the winter Olympics — a mere eight pages in all — hopeful that eventually they might get invited to pitch their idea in front of the executives themselves. As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary: Their idea for a film started a bidding war. They were too young to know who Tonya Harding was, but they became very, very rich. The two brothers made over a million dollars for the script that became Blades of Glory.
When you consider that Blades of Glory will earn more than $250 million, it makes sense — financial, not artistic — to pay a fraction of that for a script. So here’s what I want you to do. Think dirt. Think kneepads. Think big kids on little bikes. In other words, think BMX. The major sports have been drafted into films, but BMX cries out for a script to immortalize it. Remember to keep it vulgar. People expect lots of farts and burps and vomit. Also, make sure your pedaling protagonist is an idiot. Call him Rick, since real Ricks probably won’t “get it,” at least not enough to complain. Then, after some accident in which the villain (i.e., the smarter character) falters, have Rick narrowly win the championship trophy plus the girl and a lifetime supply of beef jerky. When you’re done writing, find yourself an agent, if one hasn’t already found you. Then sit back and watch the money pour in for BMX Bandits: Wheels of Glory.