Semi-Pro is the latest sports comedy from Will Ferrell, who is going for a new record in number of different sports in which he’s made an ass of himself. This movie is slightly worse than his ice skating movie last year, Blades of Glory.
As a fan of his silliness, I welcomed another off-the-wall interpretation of one of America’s favorite past times. But even those who love him have to admit his act consists of the same character rehashed with a new name and wacky outfit.
Jackie Moon is the same dim-witted, overconfident character we’ve seen him do constantly, bellowing nonsensical phrases randomly for laughs. It’s still semi-funny, but “Ferrellites” will be semi-disappointed.
Just like Ferrell’s act, the movie starts strong with the familiar hilarity you’re expecting, but it wears thin by the end, leaving the audience with only a lazy plot that dribbles to a predictable conclusion.
The best laughs actually come from the supporting cast, not from Ferrell, Andre 3000 from Outkast, or veteran Woody Harrelson, who has his own classic sports comedy (Kingpin). The funniest lines are delivered by the commentators (much like in Dodgeball) played by Will Arnett and Andrew Daly. These two are very funny and when they’re given screen time steal the show from the impressive cast of comedy giants and cameos.
Like most sports movies, Semi-Pro is the story of a misfit team of players with little talent and an arbitrary goal. The Flint Tropics are striving to make it to… fourth place. A merger with the NBA means only the top four teams in the folding ABA league will make it to the professional level. So the team has to step up their game and promotion in order to bring the necessary fan quota to become a new franchise.
The premise is pretty typical. You start with a team that can’t win and you bring in a seasoned has-been who teaches them all the right moves to suddenly go on an unrealistic winning streak. The plot doesn’t really lend itself to any comedy, but the promotional aspect allows Ferrell to participate in mini-sketches throughout, like a roller skate daredevil jump or wrestling a live bear. They’re ridiculous, but these deviations from the formulaic story are what keep the movie semi-fun.
It does, however, give us a glimpse of what it would look like if Mark Cuban owned the Dallas Mavericks in the 70’s and if he suited up for games.
Also lazily written in is a standard romantic subplot between Monix (Woody Harrelson) and some random woman named Lynn (Maura Tierney). She’s apparently some old flame of his that he rekindles when he’s traded to Michigan for his “fire power.” But the love story is terrible and adds nothing to the story or the comedy, but it wouldn’t be like all the other movies exactly like it without the hero winning the girl. It is entirely useless and disrupts the flow of the movie.