"Semi-Pro" is semi-funny
Will Ferrell's basketball comedy isn't a complete
air ball, but it does commit a few fouls.
there's one thing that can be said for my generation, it is that we
simply love anything Will Ferrell lays his comedic hands on. Growing up
we were introduced to his antics on Saturday Night Live where he
created several memorable characters that spun off into feature films
like "Night at the Roxbury" and "Superstar."
really came in 2003 when he, along with an all-star cast, made "Old
School." Soon after leaving SNL, Ferrell's legacy was built with
"Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," which is arguably his best
Will Ferrell has taken the success of his Ron Burgundy
character and modified it in his proceeding films, "Talladega Nights:
The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and the sports comedy, "Blades of Glory."
Ferrell takes that template back to the ‘70s to put on an afro and some
basketball shorts as Jackie Moon in "Semi-Pro," a film that fails to
shine and lacks the persistent hilarity of Ferrell's other films.
is the story of Jackie Moon (Ferrell), owner, coach, promoter and
player of the Flint, Michigan Tropics, which is a part of the American
Basketball Association (ABA). Now this is based on some actual truth,
spoofing the 1976 merger between the ABA and the NBA. Here the
commissioners of both leagues have decided that the top 4 teams will
merge with the NBA, which sends Jackie Moon into action.
problem is, Jackie Moon isn't much of an X's and O's guy, and he lacks
the true motivational skill to bring his team to the top. So, after
trading a washing machine in the locker room, the Flint Tropics recruit
Monix (Woody Harrelson), an ex-NBA player with a championship ring and
Now Jackie Moon must show his talent as a promoter to
bring fans to the Flint Fairgrounds Coliseum in order to show the NBA
that they have a fan base worthy of merging.
That's the basic
idea - though the story really means nothing in the overall scheme of
things. Basically, Ferrell is up to his same old tricks here, pulling
his ego-tripping, delusional man-child shtick and I must say, it's
showing its age here. Obviously people love Will Ferrell because he in
himself is a character and naturally funny, but "Semi-Pro" lacks the
inspiration and strong characters that made "Anchorman" an instant
The supporting cast is weak and awkward at best.
Harrelson's role is likeable enough, but also reminiscent of his own
sports comedy, the bowling epic "Kingpin." The rest of the basketball
team struggles to get laughs, and generally their comedic skill is
right up their with their floundering basketball abilities.
actors Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Andrew Daly (Mad TV) are
perhaps the only other characters in the film that truly make us laugh.
As the Flint Tropics radio broadcasting team, these two provide plenty
of banter between each other (when not smoking and drinking on the job)
to keep us laughing.
"Semi-Pro" relies heavily on silly sight
gags and lacks a focused story. It unfortunately falls in-between the
gap of being a strong comedic story and an outlandish collection of
situational sketch humor, which is where films like "Anchorman" and
"Talladega Nights" break through.
Finally, I will say this -
"Semi-Pro" could have been a great Will Ferrell movie. One of its
biggest faults is the writing, by screenwriter Scot Armstrong, who has
written "Starsky and Hutch," "School for Scoundrels" and "The
Heartbreak Kid" among other comedies. As the writer of "Old School,"
you might think Armstrong was primed to write a Ferrell vehicle, but it
appears he's lost the touch.
Then the biggest fault is its
direction. This is Kent Alterman's directorial debut. While primarily
an executive producer, I guess someone trusted him to make this
basketball comedy. If Adam McKay (writer of "Anchorman" and "Talladega
Nights") could have worked with friend and co-writer Ferrell on this
film, I think it really could have shined - instead of being a
derivative watered-down disappointment.
Overall, "Semi-Pro" has
bits of hilarity tucked within it's muddled 90-minute running time. If
you're a Will Ferrell fanatic, you'll find plenty to laugh at during
this movie. If not, maybe just save your money for his upcoming summer