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Paramount Home Video presents
Blades of Glory HD-DVD (2007)

"Let's kick some ice!"
- Chazz (Will Ferrell)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: August 27, 2007

Stars: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer
Other Stars: William Fichtner, Craig T. Nelson, Scott Hamilton, Nancy Kerrigan, Dorothy Hamill, Brian Boitano, Peggy Fleming, Andy Richter, Luke Wilson, Sasha Cohen
Director: Will Speck, Josh Gordon

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image, and some drug references
Run Time: 01h:33m:03s
Release Date: August 28, 2007
UPC: 097361309408
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B BAA- B

DVD Review

After the success of Talladega Nights it was probably predictable that you might find Will Ferrell back in another sports-based comedy. What might not have been so predictable would be that it would be one centered on men's figure skating. Paired with Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite fame, the two make a good team, and the comedy has its moments of amusement once it manages to get beyond the obvious.

Effeminate skating technician Jimmy McElroy (Heder) and flamboyant ladies' man Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) are vicious rivals on the skating circuit, but when they get into a brawl after tying for a gold medal, they are both banned from men's singles figure skating. After three years in the wilderness, they hit on the loophole that if they skate as pairs, they're not ineligible. After some encouragement from Coach (Craig T. Nelson, returning to form), they return in triumph to the rink and start looking for a championship, if they can manage not to kill each other trying. But brother-sister team Stranz and Fairchild van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) will stop at nothing to hold onto their skating title, including use of sex, deception, and violence.

The notion of two men skating as a pair has a fair amount of innate ridiculousness to it, which helps the concept. There are way too many obvious homophobic gags, though, all of which make their way onto the screen from crotch grabs to uncomfortable embraces. But there is some humor to be gleaned form the material that goes beyond that, and the script does a decent job of eking that out. Some of the funniest bits include the admiringly over-the-top voiceovers of the television analysts (including Scott Hamilton). Ferrell gets off some humorous ad libs, such as his reference to "Denver! City by the bay!" Chazz's attendance at a sex addiction meeting also is pretty hilarious, as he narrates his fantasies and everyone starts getting turned on by the descriptions.

While I dislike Ferrell generally, he and Heder play off of each other well, with very distinct personalities grating against each other and creating comedy in their wake. The real-life couple of Arnett and Poehler are cartoonishly evil and their various schemes match their vicious cynicism. The Office star Jenna Fischer has an entertaining part as their younger sister Katie, who falls for Jimmy but is used by her siblings to get Michaels and MacElroy out of the tournament. Katie's character is pretty similar to Pam Beesley, though, so if you were interested in seeing her in a different role you're likely to be disappointed. Of course, you're not liable to see her in a black corset on the television program either. Nick Swardson is also funny in his role as an obsessive fan much in the lines of the adoring hordes that follow Apolo Ohno around the country.

The effects work is reasonably impressive, with the sensation that the stars are actually doing their own skating (although only Arnett had any significant prior ice skating experience). The on-ice segments tend to bog the storyline down, even though they're obviously necessary; most of the humor comes from the personal antagonisms that come from the off-ice antics. But as Will Ferrell vehicles go, it's not bad at all.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This is the first release from Paramount and Dreamworks since the announcement that they would go HD DVD exclusive. The HD transfer doesn't disappoint, with plenty of crisp detail from the MPEG4/AVC presentation. The costumes in particular come across with vivid color and texture that seems real. Nice deep blacks and good shadow detail make this a first-rate transfer, without any sign of posterization or unnecessary edge enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
+
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio on the 5.1 DD+ tracks has plenty of range and good LFE on the musical score, especially the arena sequences, with good bass and reasonable resonance. The slash of blades on the ice comes across with chilling vividness. Dialogue is center-oriented, and the surrounds are primarily used for music, but it's a solid track.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
3 TV Spots/Teasers
4 Deleted Scenes
7 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Alternate takes
  2. Gag reel
  3. Photo galleries
  4. Music video
Extras Review: A large selection of bonus featurettes are included, almost all of them in HD. Return to Glory (14m:46s) is a "making-of" that manages to be a good deal funnier than the movie itself, with plenty of silliness from the cast and crew, including producer Ben Stiller. Celebrities on Thin Ice (6m:04s) takes a look at the skating instruction provided and the method of executing the effects to make them look real. Cooler than Ice (4m:37s) covers the costuming, while Arnett & Poehler: A Family Affair (5m:49s) is a jab at the couple and their competitive natures. 20 Questions with Scott Hamilton (5m:00s) starts serious but gets increasingly goofy as it goes along ("If a dragon stepped on a skate, would it break?"). Hector: Portrait of a Psychofan (3m:23s) features Swardson in character as he goes on about his obsessions. The one featurette not in HD is the Moviefone Unscripted (9m:53s) segment that features Ferrell, Heder and Arnett asking each other questions.

Four deleted scenes (also in HD, totaling 9m:06) include a major piece of backstory that overexplains the rivalry between the two leads, and in another scene, Ferrell and Heder perform the theme song. The deleted scenes do include payoffs for a number of gags that are set up in the movie without any resolution. There are alternate takes (8m:37s), which show just how much improvisation was used in shooting the movie (or possibly how hard it is to restrain Ferrell). A gag reel (2m:09s) is fairly lame, mostly consisting of pratfalls and flubbed lines. A music video by Bo Bice of the theme song is included in HD, even though the packaging indicates that it's standard definition. Three TV spots are the only other standard definition items. The package is wrapped up by a set of five photo galleries totaling over 150 stills.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

I don't remember anyone asking for a figure skating comedy, but here it is. Intermittently amusing, it's presented with a nice HD transfer and many extras that are funnier than the movie itself.

 


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