Semi-Pro (2008)
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Review Date: June 02, 2008
Director: Kent Alterman
Writer: Scot Armstrong
Producers: Jimmy Miller
Will Ferrell as Jackie
Woody Harrelson as Monix
Andre Benjamin as Coffee Black
The year is 1976 and Will Ferrell owns his own basketball team, which he also coaches and plays on. Unfortunately for him and his teammates, it turns out that their second-rate league will soon be merging with the more successful National Basketball Association (NBA), but only 4 teams will be making the move upward. The rest of the squads will be dissolved and unless Ferrell’s team can finish in the top 4 by year’s end, they’re toast. Humor is supposed to ensue, but honestly…not much of it does.
Considering that I was a pretty big fan of Will Ferrell’s 3 previous sports/media movies in BLADES OF GLORY, TALLADEGA NIGHTS and ANCHORMAN, I was looking forward to seeing more fun in the sun here, even though this film’s trailers never really made me laugh. Well, despite Ferrell being effective as the lead character of Jackie Moon here, despite the film’s ‘70s authenticity coming through gangbusters and despite some of the secondary characters being fun to watch, I have to admit that not much about this movie made me laugh much at all. In fact, it never really felt like a real movie, but rather, a sketch of a character turned into an 85-minute feature…including montages!! Basically, I’ll say it: the film felt slapdash! None of the jokes were really all that funny, some of the gag stuff was just embarrassing to watch (the bear fight, in particular, was brutal) and what’s with the sudden need to infiltrate obscenities into every other line? I think this is the first Ferrell movie that was littered with F-bombs, and even though I’m a pretty big F-bomb subscriber in real life myself, it just felt forced here…like the screenplay and its jokes weren’t funny enough so “Let’s add a few cocksuckers and fuck yous in there, and maybe people will laugh at that”. I don’t know. Some of the elements that I did like about the film included the amazing work done by Will Arnett though, who was stupendous as the alcohol-loving, chain-smoking play-by-play man. His mustache alone deserves an Oscar. Maybe build a movie around this guy!

Some of the other guys were fun as well, including Jackie Earle Haley and Andre Benjamin, effective as Coffee Black (great name!), but a ton of comedians were also given way too little to do here, including a bunch from SNL including Kristin Wiig, the always-great Tim Meadows, David Koechner, Jason Sudeikis and even Ed Helms from “The Office”. Some of these folks had but a line or two. What’s the fuckin’ point? But at the end of the day, the film doesn’t work because it’s just not that funny. Also, the story is pretty lame and basically gives you the ending as it presents you the beginning: Harrelson comes back to town because of an ex-girlfriend and Benjamin will apparently never play in the NBA. I’ll let you figure out what ultimately happens to each character…yawn. Not to mention the lovely Maura Tierney’s character, who comes and goes in the movie, and whose boyfriend/roommate/brother/husband is never really established properly. Straight up…who is this guy?!? But even Ferrell, who has consistently made me laugh time and time again in his previous films (even when I re-watch them), wasn’t all that funny here and seemed to be reaching most of the time. I didn’t see the names of either Judd Apatow or Ferrell friend/director Adam McKay on this picture, so maybe that’s where they went wrong? (together, they were behind the 3 aforementioned successful Ferrell-based films) Either way, I can’t really recommend this film to anyone looking for a very funny time, and not even to major Ferrell fans because there isn’t really anything too memorable going on here. Maybe if you’re bored, I guess. Also, what was with all of the serious scenes? Was this a comedy or a true-life movie? Meh. Not impressed.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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