'Blades of Glory' lands a double klutz

The male pairs figure skating film starring Will Ferrell and John Heder is (crackpot) poetry in motion.

The idea of male pairs figure skaters is such a funny concept that it would have taken a considerably worse movie than "Blades of Glory" to flatten it. Throw in the fact that Will Ferrell and Jon Heder play the two skaters and you have a potentially great comedy.

Well, "Blades of Glory" is not great – it's often not even very good. The codirectors, Will Speck and Josh Gordon, are so carried away with the funniness of its concept that they often settle for half measures. The timing is slack and the jokes repetitive. But, like most Will Ferrell movies, it has enough riotous moments to carry you through the dull stretches.

Things begin promisingly as we see a young boy executing triple lutzes on the frozen pond at an orphanage. Flash forward to the present and that boy is now champion figure skater Jimmy MacElroy (Heder), who favors sequined outfits with tufted plumage.

His rival and nemesis is Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell), who is the ying to Jimmy's yang. With his leather duds and cowboy swagger, Chazz is so macho that his female fans can barely contain themselves as he swivels his way across the ice. When he and Jimmy tie for first place at the world championships (the film is careful to avoid any prominent reference to the Olympics), they break into a slugfest on the winner's podium and are banned from the sport for life.

Both skaters go on the skids. Jimmy works in the shoe department of a sporting-goods store; Chazz dresses up as a meanie in a kiddie ice review. Then Jimmy's resident stalker figures out a loophole that will get his idol back in the rink: The skating bylaws don't prohibit him from pairs competition. Of course, we know who his partner will be.

The best sequences in "Blades of Glory" are the odd couple confrontations between these two loonies as they attempt to overcome their intense dislike for each other and grab the gold. Ferrell and Heder are such polar opposites that just seeing them stand side by side is often enough to provoke titters. Jimmy, with his blond coif, is as fey as Chazz is surly. When they do their flips and lutzes, their slapstick ballet is (crackpot) poetry in motion.

Even though these skating scenes employ ample computer-generated effects, there are still plenty of sidesplitting close-ups of Ferrell at his most mock intense. Heder is a less-skilled comic performer, so there's a mismatch in this duet. But it's difficult for anybody to go up against Ferrell when he's really cooking. And even though he's only at half boil here, that's plenty. Grade: B

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image, and some drug references.

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