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  Publicity Stills of "Semi-Pro"
(Courtesy from Warner Bros)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Kent Alterman
Cast: Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin, Maura Tierney, Will Arnett, Andy Richter, Rob Corddry, DeRay Davis, Josh Braaten, Jay Phillips, Jackie Earle Haley
RunTime: 1 hr 31 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: NC-16

Official Website: SemiPromovie.com

Opening Day: 20 March 2008


Will Ferrell stars in "Semi-Pro," an outrageous comedy set in 1976 against the backdrop of the maverick ABA – a fast-paced, wild and crazy basketball league that rivaled the NBA and made a name for itself with innovations like the three-point shot and slam dunk contest. Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, a one-hit wonder who used the profits from the success of his chart-topping song "Love Me Sexy" to achieve his dream of owning a basketball team. But Moon's franchise, the Flint Michigan Tropics, is the worst team in the league and in danger of folding when the ABA announces its plans to merge with the NBA. If they want to survive, Jackie and the Tropics must now do the seemingly impossible – win.

Movie Review:

As formulaic as it goes, Semi-Pro chronicles the fictional team, Flint Michigan Tropics’s attempt to hop onto the NBA-ABA merger bandwagon in the 1976. Scraping the bottom of the league table, there wasn’t any real possibility that the Flint Tropics will be heading to the big league until Will Ferrell (Jackie Moon) demanded that the top four teams will get the merger instead of the pre selected teams.

It’s a tough challenge made even tougher when Jackie Moon being the boss, coach, and starting player for the Tropics knows very little about x and o of basketball. However, his passion to keep his team from dissolving was undeniable infectious and veering to the edge of lunacy. There’s no stopping him from bringing more audience to the game even if it meant putting a death match with a bear during the halftime show.

The only possible saving grace for his basketball team comes from two of his star players.

One of the two star players is Woody Harrelson (Monix), a washed up player who was once in a NBA championship team. Monix marks those players who won the championship rings by warming the bench during the playoffs and never had the chance to proof that they had the ability to win those big games. While others would revel at the fact that he had the ring, he would always have the self doubting baggage on his abilities.

Andre Benjamin’s Coffee Black (that his character’s name), on the other hand marks a talented player who is squandering his time and skills in the minor league. He has the potential to be a NBA player but without proper coaching and stuck in a hopeless team, it seems that his future is dim and set to sink with the team.

The trio must find a way to resolve their individual and collective obstacles. There is nothing new about these characters’s objective or how it would be resolved but at least these goals were well defined and relatable. Together with a combination of likable characters, on screen charisma and clear while challenging goals, it’s not hard to get in the mood of rooting for these underdogs to come out on top.

The highlight of the movie was the slight modification from Hollywood’s against all odds type of happy endings. If you have been following the current NBA, it’s obvious which teams made into the merger. This detour offers is underlying celebratory message that although not everyone can be the champion but doing the best in one’s ability even in their limited talent/ resources is what truly matters.

Another highlight of this movie would be the sincere homage to the basketball game in the midst of comedic detours. Minor things like running practice plays without a ball and even the lack of regulation for certain ball play back in the 70s were a nice reverence to the tradition of basketball game.

Lastly you don’t come into a Will Ferrell’s movie not looking for laughs. The jokes in this movie were quite a mixed bunch. There are intense ones such as unintentional Russian roulette and then there are those that required plenty of effort but landed with little reaction from the audience (such as the one where Jackie Moon rolls off a ramp and onto the cheerleader). There are some jokes about basketball that those who have fanatic interest in basketball could appreciate and there are blatantly outrageous ones that other might enjoyed.

Sadly Semi Pro didn’t fare well in the US box office collection (as compared to Will Ferrell’s previous two sport movies) and the critics (both professional and many of the casual viewers) generally disliked it. In all actuality, the jokes in Semi Pro were a mixed bag and the story was built on those cliché tales for Hollywood loveable losers going against the odds. But there’s something special about this movie that charms the socks off this reviewer and it’s a little something call heart.

Movie Rating:

(Semi Fun, Semi Formulaic but Semi Pro is packed with lots of hearts)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


. Blades Of Glory (2007)

. Knocked Up (2007)

. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

. Wedding Crashers (2005)

. Bewitched (2005)

. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

. The Producers (2005)

. Anchorman DVD (2004)

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