March 6, 2008

REVIEW: Semi-Pro (C)

Background: Having already checked off NASCAR, soccer, and figure skating on his "Sports Movie Every Year" list, Will Ferrell revs up his typical sleazy/arrogant persona in Semi-Pro, written by Scot Armstrong (Road Trip, Old School) and directed by rookie Kent Alterman. Also featured are Outkast's Andre Benjamin (Idlewild, Four Brothers), Woody Harrelson (No Country for Old Men), and a smattering of current and former SNL cast members. One unique thing about Semi-Pro (because on the surface there isn't much) is its R rating. Not nearly a first for Ferrell, but also not what you'd expect. Neither is the fact that there's no nudity.

Synopsis: In the mid-70's, Jackie Moon (Ferrell) is a one-hit wonder and exaggeratedly unbelievable human. The story picks up when his ABA franchise, the Flint (MI) Tropics, are lacking in fans, wins, and funding. Star player Clarence (Benjamin) - he had a few names, I couldn't keep track - has an attitude problem and aspirations for the NBA, which is about to absorb four ABA teams. The Tropics can earn a spot in the NBA if they finish in those top four, so Moon signs former Boston Celtic Monix (Harrelson) to bring some experience onto the team, and so begins the unlikely underdog road to success. The ending isn't quite as predictable as you think, but the plot doesn't really matter here. The focus is on tight shorts, puking, filthy athletes, shirtless hippies, and a grizzly bear.

I Loved:
+ The 70's funk soundtrack, despite the odd inclusion of Robin Thicke's "When I Get You Alone." Great song, just weird timing and the wrong decade.
+ Some flashes of hilarity from Will Ferrell, as inconsistent as they were. Anytime the guy sings it's money.

I Liked:
+ The back-and-forth between commentators Will Arnett and Andrew Daly.
+ Andre Benjamin - if you're a fan of Outkast you won't be surprised that he can act. I'd like to see him take some better roles, though.
+ Tim Meadows creeping into another role again. Was he so scarred by the failure of The Ladies Man that he couldn't show his face for the last few years?

I Disliked:
- The disgusting boyfriend/husband (?) played by Rob Corddry - what was that about?
- Ferrell's over-done freakout at the ABA owners meeting.
- That the originally funny poker scene (and rip-off of The 40 Year-Old Virgin) turned into a predictable and flat Russian roulette gimmick.

I Hated:
- The idiotic puking scene.
- Jackie Earle Haley wasted in a ridiculous role.
- The never-ending bear attacks. Give it up.

Writing - 7
Acting - 9
Production - 7
Emotional Impact - 8
Music - 5
Significance - 1

Total: 37/50= 74% = C

Last Word: I'm not really sure what people's expectations are for Will Ferrell movies anymore, but we just can't keep ourselves away from the theater, can we? Semi-Pro is an unfunny misfire for several reasons, but primarily because it doesn't feature enough of Ferrell's ridiculous dialogue ("My mom wrote that song 3 weeks before she died."). Woody Harrelson basically steals the movie while the other characters get more screen time than they know what to do with. The physical comedy is either gross or worn out (except the punch in the back of the knee), and the injection of actual romance in this movie should be enough to tell you that it doesn't know where it's going. Is it making fun of basketball movies? Is it making fun of the 70's? Of Flint, Michigan? Despite the messiness, there are admittedly some funny moments scattered throughout - not enough to justify a trip to the theater, but enough for die-hard Ferrell fans, which appear to be a diminishing crowd.


  1. This was a movie where my reaction grew more negative the more I thought about it after the fact.

    While I was watching it, I chuckled and was never really annoyed, but in retrospect it seemed so lazy and flaccid that it started to bug me.

  2. Well I definitely understood that you didn't like it from your initial review, but you're right in that it's not getting any better with time. Based on it's terrible box-office numbers, we might be among the few who ended up seeing this anyway.

  3. On Sunday before seeing Married Life, I was sitting in the bar having a cocktail before the show writing a review of Miss Pettigrew (I like to fancy myself all cosmopolitan and high living...don't believe a word of it) and the bartender actually recommended Semi-Pro to a couple who came in and sat down after me.

    I wanted to smack him. I wasn't horrible, but how could you possibly tell someone to see it?

  4. Ha, Mr. Kennedy Lives For a Day. Well I could make a jab here at the movie tastes of bartenders, but with the hours they work it's unlikely they have any - Semi-Pro was probably the only movie this guy has seen all year. No excuse, though, especially if they live anywhere near you and have the film universe at their disposal. A smack may have been justified, but I'm sure he would have guffawed and made a reference to the scene with Ferrell & Benjamin.

  5. Again, not really interested, but thanks for taking on for the team :)

  6. As evident by the lack of comments and lack of box-office, Nick, you're definitely not the only one. I doubt this would be lauded as high humor in SA, either. It's quite stupid.

  7. The other day I spent ten horrifying minutes with two of my co-workers telling me that I MUST see Wild Hogs, with the added bonus of them quoting the movie. My fake smile muscles are shot for weeks.

  8. Haha, that's hilarious.

    Somebody should expand John Edward's "Two Americas" to examine societal divisions outside of income. Such as, how we can close the gap and reach out to those who are packing the theaters to see Wild Hogs?

  9. "my fake smile muscles are shot for weeks" hahahahahaha.

    I don't like to rain on anyone's parade when they genuinely love a movie I hate, but Wild Hogs might be pushing it.

    Ok, full disclosure, I didn't actually see Wild Hogs, yet it's become my current shorthand for "Sucky mainstream comedy"

  10. Doesn't Wild Hogs just roll off the tongue when you're searching for that terrible movie to bring up in conversation? Like you, I've used it as a whipping post a few times but never seen it. Same with Balls of Fury.


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