Blades of Glory
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Jimmy MacElroy and Chazz Micheal Micheals are figure skating rivals who blade in from completely different ice rinks. Jimmy is a graceful-but-effeminate prodigy who has focused on nothing but skating since childhood. His signature move: The famed galloping peacock. Chazz, on the other hand, is a loutish rogue given to self-adulation and pyrotechnics whose style has more in common with a rock stars and cowboys. The leather-clad, self-proclaimed sex addict is just as well known for his moves off the ice as on it.
When the two tie for gold at the Wintersport Games, their ensuing brawl on the podium earns each a lifetime ban from the sport.
Misery marks post-competitive life for both men. Jimmy sells skates to spoiled, ungrateful children. Chazz drinks his way through a costumed role in an Ice Capades-style kids' show. Until, that is, the skaters find a loophole in the rules: The men are only barred from the singles competition, not pairs. Under the tutelage of Jimmy's former coach, Chazz and Jimmy flamboyantly storm the ice once again as the world's first male figure skating duo.
Still, rivalry between the skaters dies hard. The only thing the sequin-and-leather odd couple detests more than each other (at first, anyway) is their competition: the conniving brother-sister duo of Fairchild and Stranz Van Waldenberg. The former pairs champions will go to virtually any length to ensure a repeat victory, including using their younger sister, Katie, in a manipulative sexual ploy to divide and conquer Chazz and Jimmy.
In spite of their mutual loathing, Jimmy and Chazz eventually put aside their differences and become loyal friends. When reporters use quotes from the past to try to drive a wedge between them, Chazz will have none of it and rejects his former criticism of Jimmy. Rocky-like training (Blades-style, of course) yields the discipline and skill they need to compete.
Katie Van Waldenberg falls in love with Jimmy, and she tries her best to resist her scheming siblings' attempts to use her as a pawn. (She doesn't completely succeed. More on that in "Sexual Content.") Katie also encourages Fairchild and Stranz to compete in the "spirit of honest competition."
A crazed fan repeatedly says, "God bless you Jimmy, God bless your heart." Chazz, who has a tattoo featuring the Chinese yin and yang symbol, mutters an adapted version of the so-called Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity not to have sex ..." and so on. (The prayer unfortunately gets more explicit as it goes.) Chazz also mentions seeing the Virgin Mary in an ecstatic moment (Jimmy replies, "That's not her").
Commercials for Blades hint at the way Chazz and Jimmy touch one another in competition. The movie itself fills in the blanks. Chazz puts his hand on Jimmy's crotch to support him in a lift (and makes a face). An inverted maneuver positions each man's head near the crotch of the other. The skaters end one routine crotch to crotch, their legs scissored together. Etcetera.
Those images are reinforced by frequent double entendres that wink at homosexual contact. And off the ice, Jimmy has a male stalker whose admiration seems at least partially sexual. Artwork pictures two men shoulder to shoulder with arms around each other and hearts coming out from between them.
Heterosexual content is more blatant and virtually nonstop. A long scene finds Chazz wrapped in a low-slung towel while enumerating sexual conquests. Chazz graphically describes his physical response to seeing Nancy Kerrigan. He brags about having "tapped" skaters Michelle Kwan and Oksana Baiul. And he tosses his jock strap to 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen, who sniffs at it happily. (Cohen, along with other well-known skaters Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, Brian Boitano, Scott Hamilton and Nancy Kerrigan, appear at various times throughout the film.)
Sports commentators identify Chazz as having won "four national championships and an adult film award." Masturbation is mentioned as well. Another scene finds him with arms around two women as another couple makes out in the background.
Katie's siblings threaten to disable Jimmy if she doesn't have sex with Chazz (an attempt to break up their rivals' working relationship). Katie reluctantly goes along with the plan, which ends with her in lingerie and Chazz grabbing her barely covered breasts. (Both regret their actions.) We also see a nurse's barely buttoned shirt and cleavage, a woman in a bra and jeans, and yet another busty female at Chazz's sex addiction class who's aroused by his "confessions." Still another groupie tosses Chazz her underwear.
Brother and sister Stranz and Fairchild have a heated argument, slap each other, then kiss passionately. Katie and Jimmy share two deep kisses.
Chazz and Jimmy watch a video of the last pair that attempted a death-defying move known as the Iron Lotus. It ends disastrously when the female skater's head is lopped off by her partner's skate and bounces bloodily across the ice. (The footage is grainy and shot from quite a distance away.) While practicing the Iron Lotus, Chazz slices off the heads of dozens of mannequins. Jimmy and Chazz fight, and the struggle ends with a head butt, bloodying Jimmy's face. A torch is knocked over, setting someone on fire. To prove his toughness, Jimmy strips to his underwear and slides across the ice on his chest (leaving red scrapes). During practice, Jimmy accidentally drives his foot into Chazz's crotch. Later, Chazz purposely returns the favor.
Stranz hits Chazz in the head with a pipe and shoots a crossbow at him. Fairchild intentionally throws a string of pearls onto the ice, causing Chazz to break his ankle. Jimmy's stalker yells out to his hero in several scenes saying, "I sent you a cup of my blood," "I totally want to cut off your skin and wear it to my birthday" and "I'm still gonna kill you someday."
Crude or Profane Language
A big handful each of "h---," "d--n" and "b--ch" are joined by just over a half-dozen s-words. The word "a--" leads the foul language pack with about 12 uses. "G--d--n" pops up twice, as does one abuse of Jesus' name. Crude references to male and female body parts can be heard. And Jimmy and Chazz repeatedly flip middle fingers at people.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Following his competitive ouster, Chazz gets seriously inebriated from beer and rum before skating (on the job) in front of an audience of children. He drunkenly vomits twice inside of his prop head (we hear it, but don't witness it). He's also accused of being "stoned" with fairy characters from the ice show. Bragging about his wild past, Chazz tells Jimmy he doesn't remember one competition because, "I was on Quaaludes." Chazz also admits to being drunk when he got a tattoo. At another competition, he grabs a bottle of champagne from a young woman and slaps her on the bottom. After a particularly "sexy" skating routine, Chazz asks the audience if they want a cigarette.
Stranz and Fairchild perform a skating routine they say is based on the affair between JFK and Marilyn Monroe. In it, Fairchild downs a bottle of pills and her brother helps her regurgitate them. Coach smokes a cigar. Jimmy's adopted father drinks alcohol in their limo.
Other Negative Elements
Jimmy and Chazz find themselves in jail, where another inmate drops his pants and sits on a nearby toilet. Jimmy is handcuffed and by way of a bizarre series of events, ends up having to lick a filthy public bathroom floor.
Stranz and Fairchild repeatedly use their parents' accidental death to manipulate Katie. As a child, Jimmy was adopted from an orphanage by a rich, manipulative father who chose the boy for his skating skills. When Jimmy gets banned from skating, he's disowned.
Blades of Glory could have been a justifiably scathing lampoon of the win-at-any-lead-pipe-to-the-knee world of amateur figure skating. Stars Will Ferrell and Jon Heder immerse themselves in unique characters that do have some moments of genuinely funny chemistry. But instead of tickling us with a witty exposé of comically unexplored terrain, the writers chose instead to skate a tired and clichéd patch of scratched-up ice.
As with Ferrell's other vocational PG-13 comedies Anchorman and Talladega Nights, most of what passes for humor here is driven by over-the-top sexual gags. And it's simply impossible not to notice the homosexually tinged innuendo.
Pointing out the thinly disguised gay allusions, MSNBC.com's Dave White comments that promotions for the film in what he calls his predominantly gay neighborhood seem to be aimed directly to that constituency. "The oversized poster at the stop nearest my home features Will Ferrell and Jon Heder on ice skates wearing sequined spandex unitards and crotch-locked in what can only be described as an illustration from The Joy of Gay Sex re-enacted by movie stars," he writes.
That's not to say Blades is pushing a specific gay agenda. If anything, it may be making fun of our culture's squeamishness about male friendships, and using the admittedly extreme working relationship between Chazz and Jimmy to accomplish that purpose. Chazz is the epitome of hypermasculinity run deliriously amok; Jimmy's androgynous, effeminate nature acts as his perfect foil. White thus concludes, "Blades goofs on gay panic in a way that's smarter than its characters and manages to comment on the real discomfort some heterosexual men still feel when they encounter that which might brand them effeminate."
Still, instead of prompting us to think seriously about these issues, mostly what Blades of Glory does is invite us to laugh at them. In the end, we wonder if the effect of such humor is really much different than entertainment that deliberately uses comedy to influence how we think, à la Will & Grace. In the end, whether it's Chazz pawing at a woman's chest or grimacing as he looks at Jimmy's upside-down crotch, 93 minutes of titillation on ice ultimately leaves our sense of decency wincing ... and our ability to discern truth when it comes to sexuality that much more numbed.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Will Ferrell as Chazz Michael Michaels; Jon Heder as Jimmy MacElroy; Will Arnett as Stranz Van Waldenberg; Amy Poehler as Fairchild Van Waldenberg; Jenna Fischer as Katie Van Waldenberg; Craig T. Nelson as Coach