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BLADES OF GLORY – Theodore Shapiro

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Sports comedies are nearly as common as sports dramas at the movie theatres, and “Blades of Glory” was a film that did very little to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack. Despite a few entertaining moments, the film feels like one of the more forgettable entries in the career of Will Ferrell… and one of the many recent forgettable entries in the career of Jon Heder (who keeps trying and failing to capitalize on his “Napoleon Dynamite” fame). Anyway, the film centers around a pair of banned male figure skaters who bend the rules by deciding to skate together as a pair. This leads to all sorts of rather dumb gay jokes, and a long, slow progression to the climax of all sports movies, “The Big Game/Event/Championship/Thing”.

The score is provided by Theodore Shapiro, who has written snazzy, entertaining scores for recent films like “Heist”, “Starsky and Hutch”, “The Devil Wears Prada”, and “Fun With Dick and Jane”. Shapiro is not very well represented on album, and so it’s a pleasant surprise to see this score getting a release from Lakeshore. For the most part, Shapiro’s hip, stylish tendencies are put aside here (with the exception of a few entertaining cues like “Icy Hot Superslide”). Instead, we’re given a parody of a typical sports score… which basically sounds just like a typical sports score.

Sure, things are a little more lightweight, but the Olympic-style fanfare that opens the album is really quite exciting. I was a little underwhelmed by the music when I watched the film… but listening to it on album, divorced from the uninspired visuals, it takes on a life of it’s own. The rousing main theme is genuinely exciting, terrific fun. A tender love theme (for the characters played by Jon Heder and Jenna Fischer) shows up in “Snow Cones”, which is actually a little less trite than you might expect for a film like this. The fact that it’s played by a music box adds an extra element of sweetness to it. The score never gets too repetitive or tired, and has a lot of different ideas to toss at us. There’s threatening action in “The Iron Lotus”, guitar-driven R&B material in “The Illustrated Man”, and a wonderful parody of “Barney and Friends” in “Grublets on Ice”. In between, we get just enough statements of the main themes to keep them fresh in our minds.

The strongest part of the album is undoubtedly the three tracks that conclude it. The first is “The Chase”, nearly seven minutes of action and suspense. On an album filled with lots of little short cues, it’s nice to see something this meaty and sustained break out. Shapiro tosses in a lot of his techno tricks here, but frankly, he’s rather good with drum loops, and has a real knack for knowing how to meld them successfully with the orchestra. Comparisons to John Powell and Danny Elfman in this regard are not unwarranted. A brief choral fanfare in “Breaking the Ice” leads to the six-minute closing cue, “Blades of Glory”, which runs through all the major ideas in the score and gives them a rousing treatment. It’s a great finish to the album, and for once, a film score actually has a definitive, slam-bang conclusion, rather than just running out of steam. A great finish to an enjoyable album, I definitely look forward to hearing more from Shapiro in the future.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Slice and Dice on Ice (1:09)
  • Capture the Dream (2:37)
  • Freight Train From Hell (2:36)
  • Snow Cones (2:27)
  • Icy Hot Superslide (1:21)
  • The Verticoli (0:54)
  • The Family Plot (1:55)
  • The Iron Lotus (1:31)
  • Ready to Make History (1:00)
  • The Illustrated Man (1:16)
  • Pile of Guts (1:58)
  • The Loophole (0:57)
  • Grublets on Ice (0:56)
  • The Human Onion (0:35)
  • We Did It (0:41)
  • Plan B (0:52)
  • Stranz and Fairchild (0:55)
  • Disowned (1:12)
  • Cruel Bitch Mother (1:21)
  • World Wintersport (0:28)
  • The Chase (6:53)
  • Breaking the Ice (0:22)
  • Blades of Glory (6:02)

Running Time: 39 minutes 59 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-339342(2007)

Music composed by Theodore Shapiro. Conducted by Mike Nowak. Orchestrations by Pete Anthony, Bruce Babcock, Brad Dechter, Jon Kull and John Ashton Thomas. Recorded and mixed by Chris Fogel. Edited by Thomas Drescher. Album produced by Theodore Shapiro.

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