Running Time: 93 minutes
Rated: Rated M (moderate sexual references, comedic violence).
Maybe Will Ferrell's comic style is an acquired taste. I have acquired it. It is always a mixed bag but the positives outweigh the negatives. In Zoolander, he was comically bizarre. Anchorman was funny. Elf was very nice. Talladeega Nights started with a caution but turned out to be funny. Ferrell can do straight acting as in Melinda and Melinda and, especially, Stranger than Fiction. In Blades of Glory, he is very funny.
The film has much of the Saturday Night Live satiric humour - and some of the sardonic comedy of Christopher Guest's films like Best in Show. This means that there is a lot of farce, quite an amount of innuendo, some pratfall situations. But, there is a nice pre-sentimental streak there as well.
Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder (who has been rather obnoxious in Benchwarmers and School for Scoundrels) has a part that suits him very well indeed. He is a figure-skating champion, Jimmy McElroy, an orphan raised by a smiling dictator who wants only gold-medal children. His main rival is a slob, Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrel). We are given amusing bios of the two as they compete in the winter Olympics. After a tie, they are embroiled in a public brawl and are disqualified. After several years of getting nowhere, their coach (Craig T. Nelson, who was TV's Coach) has the bright idea that they could be a duo and Jimmy's mad stalker is able to show how this fits in with the rules.
What follows is a series of funny comic training episodes, fights and rivalry and, eventually, some bonding. However, lurking in the background are a ruthless brother and sister team (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, husband and wife in real life) who set their downtrodden sister (Jenna Fischer) to spy on the team and seduce them. Needless to say, it almost ends in disaster but, in split second timing, the two achieve blades of glory victory.
There are some very funny lines, often just throwaway. There are some very funny caricatures. Heder plays the nice, really ingenuous type and is sweetly convincing. Ferrell can do loathsome in a few-holds-barred style (especially because his character is also a sex addict) and bring out the comic side.
Much funnier than might be expected.
Paramount Out 21 June
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.