Being a fan of Ferrell's*--appreciating that odd mix of sasquatch-physical-presence, Divine-like willingness to do anything on-screen, and surreal improvisational skill--one wonders when the light will start to dim. Well, "Semi-Pro" is getting a little dark, a little desperate, but still maintains a good portion of laughs, even while it's something you don't want to take the kids to.
Not only is the thing rated R for what the MPAA calls "pervasive language," but they also won't get some of the more arcane jokes as the creators not only take free-throws at the excesses of minor league basketball, but at that barn's broad-side of a subject--70's couture. Lots of research was done as far as dress and decor, and the film is shot like an urban crime drama, complete with Owen Roizman-like grainy photography. It revolves around the underdog Flint, Michigan Tropics (Team Motto: "Let's Get Tropical!"--'70's, remember?), and the team is desperately trying to become one of the 4 teams merging into the NBA, rather than disappearing without a trace. The team's owner/coach/star-player is Jackie Moon (Ferrell), who acquired the team after scoring big with the funk-single "Love Me Sexy," and is having trouble filling the seats and winning games. Desperate for a chance at joining the NBA, he trades in the team's washing machine for washed-up NBA vet Monix (Woody Harrelson--playing it semi-straight, which works). Along for the ride on this one are Andre Benjamin, and such Ferrell-movie vets as Andy Richter, Will Arnett, and Rob Corddry, with Maura Tierney drawing the short straw for this movie's "girlfriend with confused motivations played by a television vet." Jackie Earle Haley appears as a truly frightening fan--he'll make a great "Rorschach."
K. enjoyed it some, but noticed a sink in quality from "Blades of Glory."
"Semi-Pro" is only semi-good, with all the subtlety of a semi-truck. Bargain Rental.
*Is it time to declare him one of the two bona-fide movie-stars to come out of the vast talent pool of Saturday Night Live that can sustain a film beyond a ten-minute skit, much less maintain a string of hits? Sure, the Chase's, Belushi and Ackroyd's, Eddie Murphy's and Adam Sandler's could sustain movies (and sometimes Mike Myers), but their careers are quality roller-coasters and few of them are capable of being the tent-pole driving a film. Only Ferrell and Bill Murray can be point-men for a movie and have it consistently open well. I blame it on "Coneheads."