Review: 'Blades of Glory' on thin ice 

Having artfully dodged the post-"Saturday Night Live" missteps that felled the film careers of Chris Kattan, Julia Sweeney and Tim Meadows — but not, inexplicably, Rob Schneider’s — Will Ferrell has become a box-office stalwart with unabashedly goofy comedies such as "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights."

His latest, "Blades of Glory," is cut from that same cloth, but the fabric is beginning to fray. "Blades" is not without its charms, mostly attributable to Ferrell, who plays sex-addicted figure skater Chazz Michael Michaels with dim-witted panache. But the story is flimsy and instantly forgettable.

Michaels, who performs his risqué skating routine to Billy Squier’s "The Stroke," represents all that his rival Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) is not. MacElroy retains a certain childlike innocence, having never kissed a girl, much less bedded Michelle Kwan and Oksana Baiul, two of Michaels’ most cherished conquests. When the rivalry takes a violent turn, they are banned from singles competition, setting the stage for their homoerotic return as the first male figure skating duo.

Naturally, there is a big competition looming on the horizon, and a rival duo (real-life partners Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, another "SNL" alum) who will stop at nothing to discourage the boys’ comeback. Arnett, of "Arrested Development," is a formidable comic talent, ideally cast as the sneering dandy who tries to cripple Michaels but succeeds, in one of the film’s funniest sequences, in maiming a mascot. Arnett provides a welcome touch of subversive menace to the proceedings, which often fall flat when Ferrell and Heder leave the ice.

Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, the advertising team responsible for the Geico cavemen, "Blades of Glory" is a movie with no discernible purpose other than to allow Ferrell and Heder to mug at the camera, strip down to their briefs and pound each other bloody, on and off the ice. Is it funny? Sometimes, but it’s also the strongest evidence to date that Ferrell’s career is on cruise control. He has the acting chops to pull off dramatic roles, and he remains one of America’s most gifted physical comedians. But this is a lazy effort borne of a single idea — that Ferrell and Heder, whose "Napoleon Dynamite" mannerisms seem integral to his technique, could wring laughs out of the thinnest material. They do, just not nearly enough.

Blades of Glory **½

Starring Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, William Fichtner

Written by Jeff Cox, Craig Cox

Directed by Josh Gordon, Will Speck

Rated PG-13

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

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