Blades of Glory may well be the Will Ferrell movie for people who don't like Will Ferrell movies. It's hard to believe, since an outlandish sports comedy where the SNL vet plays a slovenly egomaniac probably sounds like the quintessential Ferrell flick. But where movies like Anchorman and Talladega Nights -- and even non-Ferrell sports comedies like Dodgeball -- depend on comedian improvisation, and on scenes in the script that delve into the truly bizarre, Blades of Glory actually sticks fairly rigidly to its story.
This has its benefits; Ferrell rarely indulges in his usual uncontrollable rants, and while he may be treading on fairly well-worn territory with his character, it's a persona that works well for him. Likewise, Jon Heder finds success in a role that's quite the opposite of Napoleon Dynamite, playing a dainty and elegant figure skater with a mane of blonde, Leif Garrett-like curls (though you'll catch him slipping into the Dynamite voice here and there, like a suppressed foreign accent). Unfortunately, while these concessions may tone down the elements that don't agree with non-fans of the cast, they also rob the movie of what many viewers are looking for. Co-stars Amy Poehler and Will Arnett are surely capable of extreme hilarity as an uncomfortably close rival brother-sister skating team, but the script provides them little dialogue besides words to further the plot, and we're even cheated out of seeing the entirety of their skating routine as Marilyn Monroe and JFK. The Office's Jenna Fischer is as adorable onscreen as ever, but she's given little opportunity to utilize her great comic timing (though we're offered the consolation prize of seeing her in a bustier).
There are plenty of funny moments, most of them dependent on the homoeroticism of male-male pairs skating -- which you can't really claim you didn't see coming. There are also, somewhat surprisingly, a number of skating in-jokes; pretty much every prominent American skater from the past 30 years makes an appearance, and you might notice that the secret, experimental move in Ferrell and Heder's routine is the exact same one from 1992's The Cutting Edge -- though it's much more impressive here, where we're given shady footage of it, previously only being legal in North Korea. In the end, Blades of Glory has what its target audience is looking for, it just doesn't have a lot of it.