In the past five years Will Ferrell and Jon Heder have become two of the world's biggest comedy stars. Both have made duds, but through a succession of characters in Ferrell's case - Mugatu in 'Zoolander', Frank the Tank in 'Old School', Ron Burgundy in 'Anchorman...', Buddy in 'Elf' - and one, Napoleon Dynamite, in Heder's, their fanbase has exploded.

So the prospect of the two of them getting together in the one movie was something to savour, but also something to have reservations about - just look at the below par pairings of Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller in 'Starsky & Hutch' and Wilson and Vince Vaughn in 'The Wedding Crashers'. Ironically, Ferrell's cameos were the best things about both films.

Thankfully 'Blades of Glory' is a treat - no classic, but very funny  - and atones for the disappointments that Ferrell and Heder have lent their names to.

In the world of US figure skating two very different men dominate. One is Jimmy MacElroy (Heder), a blonde-haired, blue-eyed effete who was raised by unhinged billionaire Darren MacElroy (Fichtner) and brings grace, gentleness and more camp than a tent shop to the ice.

The other is Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell), a beer-swilling, leather trouser-wearing, porn movie-starring Detroit bad boy who hauls the baggage of his sex addiction to every competition and wows disrobing female crowds with his nothing-to-the-imagination routines.

The rivalry between the two has been close to the boil for years but explodes when they end up sharing first place at the US National Championships. After a bout of fisticuffs they're banned from individual and pairs competition for life, a decision that sees Jimmy disowned by his billionaire benefactor and Chazz annihilating himself with booze in a children's ice show.

But one man, Jimmy's stalker Hector (Swardson), never loses faith in him, and when he discovers a loophole in the regulations which allow Jimmy to compete in pairs with another man there's only one candidate for the job.

Ferrell's trademark buffoonery is back to genius levels here with his performance as the man with a bad haircut, beer belly and inability to say no - to anyone. In Chazz Michael Michaels he's landed in another character like Frank the Tank and Burgundy who's funny from minute one to minute 90.

In Heder Ferrell has a great foil, but one of 'Blades of Glory's two failings is that Heder's man child Jimmy isn't coloured in as much as a character or given as many good gags as Ferrell's Chazz. As Heder showed in 'Napoleon Dynamite' he's a master at delivering a line, so it's a pity he doesn't get more standout ones here.

The other failing is one that comes with success: 'Blades of Glory' was good enough that it deserved to be longer. But, as with many comedies these days, there seems to be a terror in Hollywood that fans only have attention spans for an hour-and-a-half and that anything over that running time is pushing a self-destruct button. While there might be some truth in that for bottom-of-the-barrel capers, 'Blades of Glory' has plenty of cream and the plotline could've been slowed down and more setpieces added with, you suspect, little to fear.

That said, this is guaranteed to brighten any evening and would hold up to repeated viewing on DVD. With all the best jokes here, it wouldn't be wise for Chazz and Jimmy to come back for an Olympics-set sequel, but there's no doubt that Ferrell and Heder should work together again.

Harry Guerin