Mediocrity on Ice 

Will Ferrell is always funny, but there's no need to rely on that.

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In a movie about figure skating starring Will Ferrell, you might expect the comedy star to be decked out head to toe in spandex. There are a couple of scenes of him in "Blades of Glory" prancing in tights, but he's just as funny near naked, or as naked as anyone could possibly stand.

As a physical specimen, Ferrell is nearly unique. It's almost as if he's really trained his body, as he frequently says in his movies, to look like that. He seems to lack even one definitive muscle, his entire torso bristling instead with body hair as perfectly curled as Shirley Temple's. All that body needs is a good name.

Ferrell plays Chazz Michael Michaels, a pro figure skater who wears a lot of leather and combs his long hair like a bad 1970s rock star. Chazz is an idiot bad boy who's proudest of the traits that seem most ridiculous to us. This is low-hanging fruit for Ferrell — Ron Burgundy in skates. But "Blades" is a low-hanging Ferrell vehicle. Not surprisingly, it uses up almost all of its wit in the beginning.

We are first introduced to little Jimmy MacElroy, a boy wonder who does double-axel jumps at the local orphanage. A tycoon (William Fichtner) adopts him and raises him into a champion like someone might breed racehorses. The funny concept quickly takes us to the present, where a full-grown Jimmy (Jon Heder), festooned in a peacock costume, competes at a world-class event. Before Jimmy can claim the gold, the stadium buzzes to the intro of his nemesis, Chazz. Naturally the two hate each other. A fight gets them banned from skating, with Jimmy retiring to work at a winter sports store, and Chazz sent to skater's hell: performing as a wizard in a low-rent version of the Ice Capades.

The wizard scenes are classic Ferrell, as Chazz gargles whiskey like mouthwash while fondling the woodland fairies. He gets big laughs here, but the scenes inevitably give way to more on-ice antics as Jimmy and Chazz must compete again, this time as the first male-male duo. At this point the movie devolves into lame gay-bashing, giving the audience time to realize that figure skating is one sport that has never been in need of parody. The scenes that are the most amusing — Ferrell drunk and bellowing, or making ridiculous passes at appalled women — owe little to the premise. Like it or not, this is what the movie's producers probably figure their customers are paying for: a simple, silly premise to showcase Ferrell's comic gifts, in all their fleshy glory. (PG-13) 93 min. ** S

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