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Blades of Glory

From the start it seems, Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) were born to be fierce figure skating rivals. Adopted at a young age and raised in the protective lap of privilege, MacElroy was a prodigy from the start, a certain champion. Michaels, on the other hand, picked up skating on the fast, frozen streets of Detroit, where he displayed early talent despite never working with a coach. Their styles couldn't be more different either — MacElroy graceful, Michaels profane — and both earn consistently high scores at the judges' table. But when the two are forced to share a gold medal at a competition in Stockholm, a fistfight breaks out on the podium. Banned for life from the sport, they are thus forced to look elsewhere for a living. MacElroy, since disowned by his father (William Fichtner), sells retail equipment at a "Ski n Shred" outlet, while Michaels appears in the children's show "Grublets on Ice." However, three years after he was kicked out of pro skating, MacElroy learns that he was never banned from pairs competition, and thus turns up at Grublets on Ice looking to recruit a female partner. Inevitably, he and Michaels once again throw down, but MacElroy's coach (Craig T. Nelson) is convinced that the two would make a dominant pairs team — and there's nothing in the strict letter of the regulations to prevent it. Convinced to train together, Michaels & MacElroy practice what will become the coup de grâce of their routine, the potentially lethal "Iron Lotus," and their competitive spirit eventually makes them literal brothers in arms. But the current pairs champions, brother-sister act Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) are determined to trip them up on the international ice, causing them to set a jealously trap with the help of their meek, put-upon sister Katie (Jenna Fischer).

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Blades of Glory (2007) served as Will Ferrell's high-profile follow-up to the previous year's Talladega Nights — with both titles earning more than $100 million in theaters, it would seem that studios can't lose with Ferrell headlining a sports comedy (Semi-Pro is next on the list, with Ferrell on the basketball court). However, while Ferrell was a high school jock and studied sports broadcasting in college, Blades of Glory was originally attached to Ben Stiller, who turned down the role of Chazz Michael Michaels but stayed on as a producer. It's not hard to guess how Stiller would have portrayed the hedonistic Michaels (a character not far removed from White Goodman in Dodgeball), although a combination of re-writes and improvisations made Ferrell's transition into the lead role essentially seamless. Blades also gave Jon Heder's movie career a much-needed boost — the Napoleon Dynamite star hasn't struggled for work since his 2004 breakout success, but he hadn't found a hit either until his Frat Pack initiation, and he manages to make Jimmy MacElroy amusing enough to let us forget about the frizzy hair and glasses (indeed, it was easy to wonder if Heder would ever be anything else in the public imagination). That said, don't expect too much going in — the story is driven by the personality clash of Michaels and MacElroy, along with plenty of dude-on-dude homophobia jokes (all in good fun) and the sort of flamboyant costumes and performances that are de rigeur in pro skating, while the boilerplate script features a training montage, a bit of a love story between Jimmy and Katie, and three high-stakes competition sequences. Credit directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck for bringing it all together, helming their first feature film after extensive work in television commercials (including the popular GEICO ads). And figure skating fans won't be disappointed by cameo appearances, which include Scott Hamilton, Nancy Kerrigan, Dorothy Hamill, Brian Boitano, Peggy Fleming, Lisa Marie Allen, and Sasha Cohen.

Paramount/DreamWorks' DVD release of Blades of Glory offers a solid anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include the featurettes "Return to Glory: The Making of 'Blades'" (15 min.), "Celebrities on Thin Ice" (6 min.), "Cooler Than Ice: The Super-Sexy Costumes of Skating" (4 min.), "Arnett & Poehler: A Family Affair" (5 min.), "20 Questions with Scott Hamilton" (5 min.), "Hector: Portrait of a Psychofan" (3 min.), four deleted scenes, a Bo Bice music video, a gag reel (2 min.), alternate takes (8 min.), "Moviefone Unscripted" with Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, and Will Arnett (9 min.), three MTV interstitials, stills, and previews for other Paramount and DreamWorks titles on DVD. Keep-case.
—J. Jordan Burke

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