Semi-Pro


Directed by: Kent Alterman
Written by:Scot Armstrong
Starring: Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin, Maura Tierney, Andrew Daly, Will Arnett, Andy Richter, David Koechner, Jackie Earle Haley
Released: April 3, 2008
Grade: B

Semi-Pro is your typical Will Ferrell movie.  That’s the easiest way of describing it.  If you’ve watched Blades Of Glory, Talladega Nights or Anchorman, you’ll know exactly what to expect.  In all four movies, you’ll see (1) Will Ferrell dressing up, (2) Will Ferrell deliberately over acting and (3) Will Ferrell getting laughs from playing an idiotic character.

This time around, he’s playing a 70s basketball player named Jackie Moon.  Moon is the captain, coach and owner of a basketball team known as the Flint Michigan Tropics.  They compete in the American Basketball Association League (ABA).  Jackie loves the sport but he loves himself even more.  If there’s a way of getting himself in front of a microphone or a camera, he’ll find it.

The problem for Jackie is that interest in his team is starting to wain.  They’ve been losing consistently and crowd numbers for home games are at record lows.  Jackie thinks his problems are solved when the ABA agree to merge with the National Basketball Association (NBA) at the end of the year.  The top 4 teams in the ABA will get to join the new league but the remaining teams will be dissolved.  If Jackie can get the Tropics into the top 4, then his team will survive and he can realise his dream of playing in the more high-profile NBA.

To help improve their on-field performance, Jackie brings in a new player.  His name is Monix (Harrelson) and he comes with a shaky reputation.  He seems more interested in stalking his ex-girlfriend (Lynn) than playing basketball.  Also of concern for Jackie is the fact that his team must average a home crowd of 2,000 people per game or else they won’t be considered for the NBA.  He needs to find a way of attracting fans.

This is a bizarre movie.  I laughed quite a bit but it wasn’t because of its intelligent, witty humour.  I laughed at how crazy the whole scenario is.  Some of the scenes are strange to say the least.  The scene at the poker table is a good example.  Looking back on the film, I’d swear that Will Ferrell’s character had Tourette’s Syndrome.  He’d be talking normally and then throw in some completely random profanity.  It’s childish humour but I couldn’t help but smile.

It’ll be interesting to see how long Will Ferrell continues with these types of movies.  He’s tried to branch out into more meaningful films (such as Stranger Than Fiction and The Producers) but he somehow ends up making another low-brow comedy where you have to have your brain switched to the “off” position to sit through it.  I’m not complaining since I think that Ferrell has talent both as an actor and a comedian.  I just don’t want to see him end up like, say, a Chevy Chase.  We’ll see.