David Edelstein On Will Ferrell

Sunday Morning movie critic David Edelstein says Will Ferrell excels in idiotically inspired movies. His latest, "Blades of Glory," continues in this vein.


Will Ferrell is the only graduate of "Saturday Night Live" to hit the motherlode in movies and not act as if he's bigger than his material.

Maybe he's not: He doesn't have Mike Myers's genius for transformation. He doesn't ply his neuroses as bravely as Adam Sandler. But I'd rather see Ferrell; there's a sweetness to his alter egos I find downright moving in an age in which too many screen clowns are jerks and putdown artists.

In "Anchorman," "Talledega Nights," and now "Blades of Glory," Ferrell plays macho fools. Yet out of that foolishness he somehow makes a kind of poetry.

The first of his anti-macho trilogy, "Anchorman," is a goof on the days when helmet-haired anchors were the pinnacles of manliness. The movie is about a sexist dinosaur getting his feminist comeuppance, but it's also about pushing the comedy envelope. The jokes are so wild the movie hurtles past the sophomoric, past the idiotic, into the surreal.

Click here to see photos from the "Blades Of Glory" Premiere.
"Talledega Nights" is even more idiotically inspired: a parody of go-for-it movies with a NASCAR-racing hero so childlike he insists on praying to Baby Jesus. The heart of the film is his loaded relationship with his sidekick, the hangdog John C. Reilly, who steals Ferrell's trophy wife, then feels like he betrayed his real significant other. Sasha Baron Cohen's prim gay French Existentialist car-racer adds ten exclamation points to all the little digs at American machismo.

In "Blades of Glory," Ferrell plays figure skater Chazz Michael Michaels — a sex-obsessed galoot. It's in stark contrast to his girlish rival, Jimmy MacElroy, played by "Napoleon Dynamite"'s Jon Heder. Of course, the brute and the femme are forced to team up in a pairs skating category normally reserved for men and women. It could be a parody of that guilty-pleasure hetero romance, "The Cutting Edge."

"Blades of Glory" is more conventional than Ferrell's other parodies; it wasn't directed by Ferrell's longtime collaborator, Adam McKay. But it's loads of fun anyway, and the straighter it's played, the more hilarious. Can each man overcome his revulsion to touching or being touched by another dude? The implication is that only real men can.

The skating is phenomenal. It really looks as if Ferrell and Heder are Olympic-worthy stylists: back-to-back, belly-to-belly, pelvis-to-pelvis. Huzzah for Will Farrell! He deconstructs — even explodes — the paradigm of American masculinity, yet so tenderly you could mistake it for an ode to innocence.

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