It’s been a while since a comedy is made on an ice rink–Slap Shot anyone? But Blades of Glory is a comedy about figure skating and not hockey. Men’s figure skating. If you start to giggle while channel surfing and come across the men’s program of figure skating, this movie is for you. It’s pure comedy (crotch kicks and all), and the cast flows together seamlessly like a pair of skating partners.
Going into this movie I was not excited. I’ve been let down by both Jon Heder and Will Ferrell before. But this is one film where you can count on the laughs to come.
The plot set up is simple. Two ice skaters, Chazz Michael Michael (Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Heder), are stripped of their gold medals and permanently banned from men’s single competition for fighting on the podium after having to share the gold medal. In their fight, they accidentally set fire to the Stockholm mascot. Once banned, Jimmy’s adopted father (William Fichtner), who only adopts winners, disowns him and leaves him on the side of the road to find his own way in life as a loser. He makes his living working at a store selling ice skates. Chazz on the other hand, joins a children’s ice show where he performs as the evil wizard, and is drunk most of the time. Jimmy’s stalker Hector (Nick Swardson) finds Jimmy to point out a gap in the rules of the ice skating world about banning players, and Jimmy sets out to be a doubles competitor. Finding a partner in the two days before nationals sign ups, however, is hard. He runs into Chazz and they get into a fight that is caught on camera by a local news station. Their throwing each other around is seen by Jimmy’s old coach, aptly named Coach and played by Craig T. Nelson of “Coach” fame, who convinces Jimmy and Chazz to become skating partners so that they can compete again. The first male-male partnership ever.
The reigning skating partners, the sister-brother team the Van Waldenbergs, are upset at the competition and ready to cheat to win. Amy Poehler and Will Arnett play the brother sister team with the sarcastic, witty comedy they show elsewhere. Jenna Fischer plays their little sister Katie, who does their bidding for them out of guilt until she falls in love with Jimmy that is. The Van Waldenberg family gives great balance to this movie. Without the evil team, the movie would have been flimsy and half as funny.
You can imagine the rest of the movie. Awkward skating holds, tough man competitions on the ice, crotch kicks. It’s slap-stick comedy with a predictable plot, but still funny. The final chasing scene by Arnett and Farrell is reason enough to see this movie. That is if laughing hysterically wasn’t reason enough.
I read such great reviews of this movie, from sources that usually are pretty right on the money. So, I had high hopes going into The Lookout. I read things like “Performance of a lifetime”, “best performance of his career”, etc, etc. And while I agree, that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was fantastic in his role (as was Jeff Daniels), I wouldn’t give this movie the “best movie of the year award” just yet.
The story of The Lookout is that of any other bank robbery. There’s no clever hidden twists, or secrets that you get surprised with.
At first, we get told the story of how Chris Pratt (Gordon-Levitt) got into a car accident, killed two of his friends, and injured his girlfriend. We don’t actually see the accident until much later into the movie, but you get the idea. In a very Scrubs-esque voice-over way, we learn that Chris now has to write down everything, in order to remember it. Very Memento, but not out of order. As we progress through his every day life, and learn how he struggles daily (we see him literally destroy the kitchen, because he can’t find the can opener, to make dinner), he meets a random stranger at a bar, who “looked up to him”, before the accident.
His new friend Gary (Matthew Goode) tries to assure him that things can be normal again, and that he can have his life back. He even introduces him to Luvlee Lemons (Isla Fisher), and the two get together. We later learn that something’s not exactly right between Luvlee and Gary, and we get the impression that they’re “more than friends”.
Gary tells Chris he has plans to rob a bank, and that he needs his help. Little does Chris know, that Gary has intentions on stealing the money, blaming Chris, and killing him.
When the robbery goes down, things go wrong, and bullets fly. We see our hero Chris escape with the money, and shouts the famed line “I’ve got the money, I’ve got the power”, in a “you’ll do what I say” sort of way. I won’t finish the story, because then you’d have no reason to go see the movie.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fantastic, as I’m sure you’ll read from every critic on the planet. Is it the performance of his career? I can’t say for sure, I’m not entirely familiar with every movie he’s made. In fact, the only one that comes to mind is 10 Things I Hate About You. Jeff Daniels portrays a blind man, or a “gimp” as he refers to himself, who’s put with Chris by the “center”. They live together, and help each other out, complimenting each other’s characters very well. I’d quite possibly say that I haven’t enjoyed Jeff Daniels as much since Dumb and Dumber.
The rest of the cast, while they don’t stand out or shine in any way, are equally as important. Isla Fisher uses what God gave her, to accomplish her task in the plot (if I have to explain what that means, you’re too young to be reading things on the internet). Matthew Goode puts on a great American accent, and sounded much like illusionist Criss Angel. Gary’s (Goode) team of thugs are silent for most of the movie, but get their parts accomplished.
While the script was somewhat ordinary (with the added “head injury” part), the acting of The Lookout makes it what it is, a great movie that stands out in a world of “based on a true story” crap-flicks. (Speaking of based on a true story, 2 of the 4 previews before the movie were based on a true story movies, enough already Hollywood, really.)
The critics are right about this movie, it’s 100% absolutely worth going to see. If you’ve heard good things about it, and had even the slightest inkling to go see the flick, do so. You won’t regret it. Don’t expect to be surprised at the ending, a fourth grader could figure out what’ll happen. Do, however, be pleased at the greatness that is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Jeff Daniels onscreen together. I can always tell when I’ve liked a movie, when I add it to my “must buy on DVD” list, as soon as I get home. The Lookout will be on that list, shortly… as soon as I can find it on my desk.