Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Review - Semi-Pro

Will Ferrell gives us another sport comedy that this times focuses on Jackie Moon a owner/coach/player for the ABA basketball team, Flint Michigan Tropics, who tries to rally his team in the hopes of becoming a NBA franchise set during the 1970s. The film is directed by first timer Kent Alterman and written by Scot Armstrong who wrote Road Trip, Old School, and Starsky & Hutch.

Semi-Pro was a hysterical and often non-sensical look at the 1970s and ABA basketball. The film while similiar in nature to Ferrell's other sports comedies, has a much darker tone. An underdog story of the ABA and while providing plenty of laughter, it does have a more somber side to it, while dealing with the downfall of the ABA and its players. I found the darker tone very refreshing for one of Will's films, especially after the disaster that was Blades of Glory. (Jesus Christ that film was bad, except for Nick Swardson, his delivery was fucking hilarious!)

Everyone in this movie gave strong performances! All of the characters seemed natural and nothing felt forced or overdone. (Which generally can be hard in an ensemble cast) Andre Benjamin has proved himself in a dramatic role with Four Brothers but here he plays a surprisingly comical character who is the preimere or franchise player on the Tropics. Woody Harrelson naturally assumes the role of the mentor player of the Tropics who is aquired in a trade for a washing machine. Harrelson seems perfect in this role which feels loosely related to his character as the mentor bowler in Kingpin. Andrew Daly and Will Arnett play the radio and tv announcers for the Tropics and their comedic timing and delivery are near perfection as the racy color announcer and simpleton commentator. Arnett's abuse of alcohol throughout all of the tv segments and games are quite comical and reminiscent of Fred Willard's performance in Best in Show.

Usually, these films have seldomly really great scenes and then a few too many that just fall flat on their face. Semi-Pro does not suffer that same fate. All of the comedic bits worked. Ferrell as the manager has some of the most hysterical hair-brained ideas to get fans to come and watch the Flint Michigan Tropics. Ferrell as per usual also really shines. Jackie Moon is as syrupie as Ron Burgandy was, (and I mean that in a good way). All of his elements were brilliant. His over the top disco single, the huge afro, the "granny style" free throws, his extremely short fuse as a typical complaining basketball player, his "give it to me....take it back" delivery had me in stitches, and the vibrant wardrobe of a 70's pimp were all too funny.

While this was not either Ferrell or Scot Armstrong's best work it was still very strong. It provided a laughter filled look into basketball history while also providing the hiliarity we have come to expect with Ferrell in his projects. Will surrounded himself with other hysterical actors who all delivered in their roles and kept the films momentum rolling, while keeping the viewers laughing throughout. The film did not feel too long and even though it has a typical comedy ending, it does not disapoint. Jackie Moon and Semi-Pro are a great addition to the already large catalog of charcters Will Ferrell plays and delivers so well in.