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Talladega Nights: good, but not great. Blades of Glory: terrible. Yet Semi-Pro can’t comfortably fit into either category. The movie doesn’t offer anything particularly dumb or startlingly great. So even though it doesn’t beg for a negative review, I still come to the thought in the back of my mind: “Then why see it?”

It’s the 1970’s, and Jackie Moon (Will Farrell) is the coach/owner/player of the Flint Tropics, a fledgling basketball team that might no longer exist in the near future. The American Basketball Association (ABA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) are merging, and some teams will have to get cut. Jackie suggests picking the best four teams of the ABA by performance, which would give his team a chance at NBA greatness.

After getting this chance, he receives Monix (Woody Harrelson), a championship ring-bearing player, in a trade, and Monix soon becomes the coach. Jackie, however, continues with his creative/crazy promotions that continue to draw decent crowds. Will the Tropics achieve their dreams after all?

I know that cheesy last line kills the paragraph, but Semi-Pro does the same. It wants to be a badass, but can’t it be lovable, too? The movie is also inconsistent in the laughs department. The comedy bits miss more than they hit, but some of the good parts are hilarious, like one tense, yet funny, scene with a gun that gets tossed around.

Semi-Pro features many of the usual members of the earlier “frat pack” outings (Will Ferrell, David Koechner, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Will Arnett) and a few bigger names (Woody Harrelson, Maura Tierney, Jackie Earle Haley), but its no Dream Team. Ferrell, Arnett, and Harrelson don’t make fools of themselves (in a bad way), but no performance stands out. These rapscallions play their parts well, but the characters are really nothing more than excuses to get the movie rolling so we can see and hear dick-and-fart jokes. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the jokes aren’t always worth the one-dimensionality of the people with which we’re supposed to sympathize.

The killer is that the movie is missing everything that has made other Ferrell movies special. The organized insanity of Anchorman, the well-realized characters in Talladega Nights, and the charm of Elf are nowhere to be found. So what’s wrong with the movie? The writer and the director, both of whom are trying to do too much, are at fault. The film would have turned out much better if they decided to focus on just one style just as the aforementioned movies did.

And there are some funny jokes. They’re cheap, but they made me laugh nonetheless. When I take in all the factors of Semi-Pro, I wouldn’t not recommend it, but I wouldn’t spend $8.50 to see it either.

Rating: 6/10



  1. Yes I have a question. When did Maura Tierney become a big name? Same question for Jackie Earle Haley. When I hear big name I play the grandma/man-in-the-street test. That is to say: if I showed someone picture of that person they’d know who they are. Even better if I just mentioned their name (or first name) THAT is some solid superficial success right there. Don’t get me wrong, I really, REALLY like the two actors but “big names” ehhhh.

  2. I think some random grandma off the street would recognize Maura Tierney. She’s been in everything from Liar Liar and Primal Fear to ER. Name recognition? That would be a tough one.

    I see your point about Jackie Earle Haley. But a recent (and deserving) Oscar nominee is more of a “big name” than who usually stars alongside Will Ferrell, eh?

    But I do see your points on both actors.

  3. I think this will be the most awaiting comedy movie of the year…I like the outfit of the player in this movie, this makes me laugh…

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