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Director: Kent Alterman
Starring: Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Maura Tierny, Andrew Daly, Will Arnett, Andy Richter.
Kent Alterman, an experienced Hollywood producer, turned himself into a first time director, for this patchy Will Ferrell vehicle. There is some passable humor, here and a story that could have been interesting, if the time was taken to develop it. They had time. It wasn’t like they were firing out classic hilarity non-stop. The script lacked the really funny one-liners that mark successful comedies, but at least there were no male genitalia flashed at us for a cheap laugh. Harrelson could have given an acting seminar to most of his cast mates, but I don’t think they were paying that much attention. By the end, neither was I.
The story here revolves around the defunct NBA rivals, the ABA, which operated from 1967 to 1976, and is best remembered for small crowds, wacky promotions, like Halter Top Night, Wrestling Bears (which they used in the film) and Cow Milking Contests (why didn’t they use that one?). In the end, it gave the NBA four teams, the three point shot, and Julius “Dr. J” Erving. I digress, however.
Will Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, a one hit wonder singer, who has used all of his wealth to become the most outlandish owner/player in the league. When a merger, is announced with the NBA, Jackie learns his team (the Flint Tropics) won’t be going unless they can finish in the top four in the league’s final season. Can they do it? Well, to help out players like Clarence “Coffee” Black (Andre Benjamin from the band Outkast) and Twiggy Munson, Jackie brings in a washed up former NBA champion, Monix to rally his troops. Look for Will Arnett in one of the funnier roles in the film, as the world’s worst color commentator.
Semi Pro smacks of a slapped together comedy project that could have been much better. It plays like a mix of sport classics like Bull Durham, Slap Shot, and Mystery Alaska (Okay, that one’s not a classic, but you get my point). It has some laughs, and a ramshackle story that could have been much better. Will Ferrell fans will dutifully show up, pay their cash and laugh at all the right times, but even they will not hold up Semi-Pro as an example of Will Ferrell’s comic genius.