I have to admit that I was never much of a Will Ferrell fan back during his Saturday Night Live days or his early starring roles in such stinkers as A Night at the Roxbury or Superstar. But over the years, he’s kind of grown on me, especially when he takes on different projects (Stranger Than Fiction) or plays a character that’s not completely obnoxious from the beginning of the film to the end.
So while I still don’t venture out to the theater to see Ferrell’s movies when they’re initially released, I do eventually check them out on DVD — which is why I ended up renting Semi-Pro last weekend. Too bad this flick turned out to be a highly predictable affair with few laughs or redeeming qualities along the way.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Set in the 1970s, Ferrell stars as Jackie Moon, a wannabe playboy who scored big with a #1 single (called “Love Me Sexy”) and used the profits from the song to by an ABA basketball franchise in Flint, MI called the Tropics. Jackie then stays on as owner, coach, promoter, and player.
At a league-wide owners meeting one day, Jackie learns that the ABA will soon be a thing of the past, as the ABA’s small markets can’t compete with the fan base of the growing NBA. Once the current season is over, the NBA will absorb four ABA teams, and the rest will just fade into obscurity. Jackie proposes that the NBA take the top four ABA finishers of the season, a suggestion that the other owners readily accept.
Jackie then acquires former NBA benchwarmer Ed Monix (Woody Harrelson), who once won a championship ring with the Boston Celtics. With Monix’s help, Jackie is convinced that the Tropics can turn their season around and vie for a spot in the NBA.
The rest of the film then deals with the team’s efforts to win ballgames, attract fans, and grab that final NBA berth.
My Reaction: I obviously didn’t go into a Will Ferrell movie viewing expecting to see an Oscar contender, but I was still very disappointed with how lame Semi-Pro was. There were hardly any funny jokes at all, and the storyline was extremely boring. There was no tension, no surprises, nothing to allow me to identify with any of the characters…. I didn’t care if the Tropics made it to the NBA or not, so I was barely even watching by the end (preferring to answer emails instead).
Plus, it seemed as though Will Ferrell was playing the exact same guy from Blades of Glory. He was just an obnoxious, out-of-shape “athlete” with no positive characteristics at all. I know Ferrell has a bit of range as an actor (see Stranger Than Fiction, as mentioned above), so I’m thinking he was just after a quick and easy paycheck here. What a ripoff for viewers.
Overall, I didn’t think Semi-Pro was worth watching at all. Perhaps diehard Ferrell fans will find something to enjoy in the film, but it’s just a waste of 90 minutes for the rest of us. I give it 1 star out of 5.