Friday, February 29, 2008


I’m not a huge Will Ferrell fan. I usually prefer my Ferrell in small SNL skits or films which aren’t built entirely around him acting as silly as possible (check out my review for Stranger Than Fiction). There are exceptions to this rule however as I though Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was a very strong comedy. Semi-Pro, to me, isn’t as good a film, but for those who enjoyed Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and/or Blades of Glory this one should be right up your alley (oh wait, that’s bowling).

The movie centers around the Flint, Michigan Tropics, a struggling ABA team and their owner/player/coach Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell). Moon is hit with the news that the ABA is disbanding and only four teams will make the transition to the NBA. Trading the team’s washing machine for a washed-up point guard (Woody Harrelson), Jackie tries to will his team into fourth place, and into the NBA, before the end of the season.

Semi-Pro is your typical Ferrell comedy. Those of you who enjoyed Talladega Nights (read Ian’s review) should feel right at home. Jackie is the typical Ferrell character, outrageous and foolhardy. To drum up attendance he promotes increasingly wild and outrageous giveaways (of live hamsters) and stunts (Jackie Moon vs. a Grizzly Bear).

Although there’s nothing too spectacular about the basketball (aside from the humorous origin of the “Alley-oop”) the filmmakers have fun with era. I also have to applaud them for filming in Flint, Michigan, which aside from giving the struggling town some much needed business, seems a perfect location for film set in the 1970’s.

Not all the stories revolve around Ferrell’s character. Subplots include Monix’s (Harrelson) attempt to reconnect with a former girlfriend (Maura Tierney) whose current beau (Rob Corddry) thinks it’s so cool his hero wants his woman. You will either think this is pretty funny, really creepy, or both. There’s also a fan’s (Jackie Earle Hailey) struggles to collect the money won during a half-time promotion. And Andrew Daly and Will Arnett have small roles as commentators for the league given names like Dick Pepperfield and Lou Redwood.

Most of the humor comes from the absurdity of the situation and there are some memorable moments including an all-out brawl during a television time-out, and Jackie taking exception to a referee’s call which produces the best line of the film. There’s nothing new here which you haven’t seen before in films like Major League, but the film does provide a few laughs and is paced well.

Semi-Pro is just what it appears to be, your average Will Ferrell comedy. Fans of Ferrell’s goofiness should have a good time and everyone else will probably be mildly amused. It’s not the type of comedy which will have you rolling in the aisles, but there are some funny bits and moments throughout that make the film worth watching.

No comments: