Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Shooting from the Bottom of the Key

Okay, Will Ferrell has made movies about kid's soccer, NASCAR, Professional Skating, and now...Minor League Basketball. What's next for Summer, 2008? Chess? Javelin?

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."

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