Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen
Like most other American guys who have a symbiotic relationship with their living-room couch, I think Figure Skating is about as silly as Synchronized Swimming or that TV show where the British Nanny comes to your house and tells you how to raise your kids.
Besides that, my mom was a dead ringer for Sonja Henie. Don’t ask.
So I lugged considerable baggage into Will Ferrell’s latest comedy, “Blades of Glory.” Ferrell, a slapsticky kind of comedian, was pretty good in “Elf” in 2003 and “Anchorman” the following year, but since then his scripts haven’t been all that hot. However, I’m pleased to announce that, paired with Jon “Napoleon Dynamite” Heder, Ferrell glides through the funniest figure-skating movie I ever saw. My wife (who actually has good taste in movies) and I both guffawed throughout the whole ridiculous thing.
Admittedly, there aren’t very many (intentionally) funny figure-skating movies around to compare it with, but whatever – the sight gags and satire are spot-on as the two zanies portray a couple of singles skaters who get banned from the rinks, and slip through a rules loophole to return as the first (reluctant) all-male figure skating pair. The brother-sister villains, busy Will Arnett and Amy (“Saturday Night Live”) Poehler, are properly preposterous, and while nothing in the film is actually new, every set-up seems somehow fresh.
While the plot is templated, the quirks are quite funny, and the supporting cast gives excellent aid. Jenna Fisher (that adorable receptionist on TV’s “The Office”) should be named this year’s Girl Next Door Cutie, while William Fichtner and Craig T. Nelson are outstanding as a Millionaire Entrepreneur and a Skating Coach, respectively.
Obviously, the film was not made to delineate the climb to glory of a skating odd couple, but solely to poke fun at the absurd world of professional figure skating. And let’s face it, figure skaters may be great athletes, but those “championship” shows we’ve all seen on television are – let’s see, how can I say this without offending anyone and/or losing my job? (Gee, where is Anne Coulter when you really need her?) – with all the glitz and glide and glamour and phony theatrics, most folks would have to admit, figure skating is kinda effeminate. And, due to the fact that everyone involves takes it so deadly serious, quite funny.
The first-time directing duet of Josh Gordon and Will Speck seemed a bit shaky with the love story between Heder and Fisher, but were sure-fire when poking pins into the pretentious balloon of their satiric subject matter. Several real-life figure-skating icons appeared as themselves good-naturedly. And obviously, as they say, a good time was had by all (with appropriate thanks to the funny script by also-first-timers Craig and Jeff Cox).
Will Ferrell has made a career out of portraying a selfish, dead-serious adolescent boy trapped uncomfortably in the body of a rather large man. It’s a funny bit, and it communicates instantly. I suspect he has a top-secret plan to bring the whole world of sports to its knees. He’s already dismantled soccer (in “Kicking and Screaming” 2005), auto racing (in “Talladega Nights” 2006), and next year will take on basketball in “Semi-Pro” co-starring Woody Harrelson. More power to him.
Meanwhile, Back at the Dixie:
The title “300” certainly does not stand for the I.Q. of the scripters on this sword, sandal and sadism special, but the whole gory mess has a certain teen-age charm about it. It’s an adolescent fantasy about the battle of Thermopylae, based on Frank (“Sin City”) Miller’s comic book. And it’s so relaxing just to park your brain in the lobby, sit back, and watch the teeth-baring good guys slaughter a gazillion baddies then gloriously die for honor.
Note: If you’re too embarrassed to enjoy this secret pleasure, do like I did: wear a paper bag over your head when you enter the theater.
Also on the Dixie screens: “Premonition.” I have the strange feeling that this one is almost as confoozin’ as star Sandra Bullock’s last journey into the paranormal, “The Lake House.” My intuition tells me that she should just go back to being Miss Congeniality and forget about mystical moron movies.
Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The New Dominion. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.