The pageantry, the athleticism and the grace of competitive figure skating all get a royal roasting in the new comedy film co-starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. Alan Silverman has a look at Blades of Glory.
With colorful, tight-fitting costumes and crowd-pleasing styles, Chazz Michaels and Jimmy McElroy are at the top in the men's figure skating world. Of course, that doesn't mean they like each other:
The rivalry only gets more intense when the final result at the biggest international skating competition is a tie.
Right. But as the crowd cheers, the bickering on the winner's platform escalates.
Embarrassed by the brawl, national figure skating officials take harsh action.
However, it turns out there's a loophole. They can no longer compete as individuals; but nothing in the bylaws says they can't skate as a couple.
Jon Heder, who plays delicate Jimmy McElroy, says they had to be fully committed to make the comedy-on-ice work .
"You didn't have time to be silly because you're really focused on not falling when you're on the ice," he says. "For those parts you're (thinking) 'I've got to look good.'
Co-star Will Ferrell, as macho Chazz Michaels, adds that they did a lot of their own skating. Well, some of their own skating.
"The first time that Chazz and Jimmy skate together - the 'Fire and Ice' thing - the whole beginning part is all us actually doing it," says Ferrell. " The coming together, the twirling around and then skating off. All the spots that they could use us they definitely did."
"Going on and off the ice, all the really simple stuff, that was us ...also coming to a stop and hitting our marks," adds Heder.
Amy Poehler and Will Arnett play the reigning pairs skating champions: a brother-and-sister act that clearly looks like another sort of relationship.
The film pokes much fun at the high fashion and cutthroat competition that exists in real figure skating; but do real skaters see the humor in their sport? Yes they do, insists Olympic Gold medalist Scott Hamilton, who plays a very sincere TV commentator in the film. "I built a career on laughing at myself first, so if this is a send-up of the skating industry, it's great if they can look at it and say 'okay, we have a sense of humor and this is going to be a fun ride.' It may not be a ride that we've chosen to take, but it's funny," he says.
In fact, veteran skaters and current champions have cameos in the film, including Dorothy Hammill, Peggy Fleming, Nancy Kerrigan, Brian Boitano and Sasha Cohen. Will Ferrell says they are not there to be mocked.
"I think they all know that there's a campy element to figure skating. They know that it's all about the pageantry and the outfits and I think, too, at the end of the day, anyone associated with a sport that a film is about is just happy that you're paying attention to them, regardless of what it's saying," he says.
Blades of Glory also features Jenna Fischer as Jon Heder's love interest (Will Ferrell's character just can't be limited to one woman); and Craig T. Nelson is the guys' dedicated coach. The comedy is co-directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck.