Monday, March 03, 2008

REVIEW: Semi-Pro

It's more-or-less a given that "Semi-Pro" is funny, both because Will Ferrell is funny and because the movie was already funny the last few times he made it. That sounds more unkind than it's intended, but it's basically true: Ferrell once more plays a loud, dumb, stunningly un-self-conscious narcissist who's status as a major player in an inherently-amusing profession spirals out of control forcing him to finally grow-up. "Anchorman" (still the best of the bunch) set the template with it's story of a cartoonishly hyper-masculine 1970s news anchor, "Taladega Nights" (also good) applied it to Nascar, "Blades of Glory" (decent) tried out figure skating and the addition of a sidekick, and now "Semi-Pro" lobs it in the general direction of ABA Basketball (ask you're parents.)

Ferrell's alter-ego this go-round is Jackie Moon, a onetime 1970s disco "musician" (a subplot which seems to exist solely because Ferrell is funny belting out a sleazy R&B riff) who's been using the money from his one-hit-wonder smash to buy, manage, coach and play-for the Flint Tropics (ha ha) ABA team. When he learns that the Tropics will not be part of the planned NBA/ABA merger, he schemes to whip the team and it's attendance numbers into shape to try and save them. All-told, Jackie is better suited to elaborate promotional stunts than actually playing or coaching, but he does make a good move in drafting over the hill NBA "star" Monix (Woody Harrelson) to help them out. It'll surprise no one that Monix arrives with baggage, most notably Tom Berenger's backstory and character-arc from "Major League."

And that's sort-of all she wrote: Funny basketball scenes, wacky promo-stunts from Jackie, semi-serious sports dramedy from Monix and (too few of) Ferrell's signature "out of place insanity" spitballing sessions - most notably a poker game that gets inexplicably out of control. It's not BAD, but you've seen it before and it's starting to wear out it's welcome.

FINAL RATING: 6/10