‘Semi-Pro’ funny, but no slam dunk
Vail, CO, Colorado
Enough already. Seriously, enough.
Will Ferrell, we all think you’re funny, one of the funniest men in the world right now, but come on, you’re better than this.
Once again, Ferrell has resurrected the role of Ron Burgundy from “Anchorman” (the best of Ferrell as an immature, over-sexed superstar) only this time he’s clad in tiny shorts and tight shirts and an afro that could get him in the Black Panther movement.
It’s the ’70s and the American Basketball Association (think of it as the NBA’s alcoholic little brother) is merging with the NBA. The NBA will only allow the top four teams in the ABA to join their league, however, and thus begins the ridiculous stupidity of “Semi-Pro’s” plot. Jackie Moon (Ferrell) is the owner, manager, coach, starting forward and marketer of the Flint, Michigan Tropics. It’s his dream to be the owner of a professional basketball team so he pushes his players to strive for the number four spot since they can’t mathematically achieve a higher ranking.
Okay, as with any dumb movie starring Ferrell, there are some funny moments that will have you rolling in the aisle, but for the most part, even this is becoming rare as the Ferrell comedy machine slowly begins to rust.
Every supporting cast member gets ripped off with throw-away roles wasted on making Ferrell the star of the show. Woody Harrelson is overall unfunny as Ed Monix, a has-been hoops star giving it one more go with the Tropics. Andre Benjamin plays Clarence “Coffee” Black to few laughs. Andy Richter, Will Arnett and Rob Corddry, all of them super-talented and very funny, get little screen time and even less funny material to work with. The plot should work, but it spins its wheels instead, hopelessly waiting for the tired retread of ’70s style and Ferrell’s shouting-for-no-reason shtick to get it going.
The punctuated moments of hilarity are few and far between. One stand out scene comes after a Tropics game and Ferrell, Arnett, and other cast members are playing poker when somebody gets offended by a remark when a gun suddenly makes its way into the scene. An impromptu game of Russian Roulette ensues until somebody finally gets shot (it’s not as grim as it sounds). Those kind of inspired ad-libbing scenes keep the movie from being a complete waste of time.
If Ferrell insists on continuing down this road I’m sure it won’t stop anyone from going to see his movies, no matter how formulaic they all are. I know I’ll be first in line for most of them. I love watching Ferrell, even in movies like “Semi-Pro.” But I know he’s capable of so much more and until he is forced to do it, we could be watching Ferrell play this part for a long time to come.
High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or email@example.com.
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