Blades of Glory climaxes with a pairs figure-skating move known as “The Iron Lotus,” whose insane degree of difficulty—it’s never been executed without leading to the decapitation of one performer—makes it, according to Craig T. Nelson’s coach, “revolutionary.” It’s the only time the term has any bearing on Josh Gordon and Will Speck’s comedy, which is composed of spare parts and stale jokes and a level of imagination epitomized by its dominant notion that ice skaters are fairies. Safe and simple, the film pokes fun at what it sees as the too-elaborate costumes, inapt musical themes, and general wimpiness inherent to the sport.
The last point is most blatantly embodied by the cantankerous relationship between Farah Fawcett-haired pretty boy Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) and cowboy sex addict Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell), rivals who, after receiving lifetime bans from singles competition for an awards-podium fight, join forces to form a historic all-male duo. They’re the wussy and the stud, a partnership that provides Ferrell with a forum for his tried-and-true combination of unreasonable macho cockiness and dim-witted buffoonishness, a routine that would be more enjoyable if Blades of Glory exhibited either the Dadist insanity of Anchorman or the sly social commentary of Talladega Nights (both of which are unimaginatively aped throughout). Without regular collaborator Adam McKay to provide a proper framework, Ferrell’s antics seem somewhat lost amid all the easy-target gags, which extend to an incestuous brother-sister team (a wasted Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) and a perfunctory romance between Heder and The Office‘s Jenna Fischer. Sports star cameos and appearances from familiar faces abound (Luke Wilson, don’t you have anything else to do?).
Yet regardless of some bursts of random lunacy—such as a rendition of the Black Eyed Peas’s “My Humps” (”No one knows what it means. But it’s provocative”)—Ferrell’s testosterony shtick fails to tweak any notions of athletic masculinity because it’s only used as a conventionally humorous juxtaposition for ice-skating’s mocked femininity. During one MacElroy and Michaels performance, Blades of Glory pulls off an astonishing quadruple-lutz of homoerotic crotch jokes. In the process, it gleefully clings to an unattractive frat-boy ethos while squandering the opportunity for real rebelliousness that its dude-with-dude story affords.