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Semi-Pro (DVD Review)

1 Jun, 2008 By: John Latchem


Street 6/3/08
New Line
Box Office $33.5 million
$28.98 DVD, $34.99 two-DVD set, $39.98 Blu-ray
Available in ‘R’ and unrated editions.
Stars Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, André Benjamin, Maura Tierney, Will Arnett, Andy Richter, Rob Corddry, Andrew Daly.

Sports comedies have become second nature to Will Ferrell, and Semi-Pro fits him like a glove. It may be a broken-in, well-used, familiar glove, but there’s no denying Ferrell’s unique brand of comedy has its followers.

Previously, Ferrell has tackled soccer (Kicking & Screaming), auto racing (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) and figure skating (Blades of Glory). Add to this flavor a dash of the 1970s (a la Anchorman), and you get Semi-Pro, a solid effort that doesn’t stray too far from the sports-movie formula. First-time director Kent Alterman has made this film as much a tribute to the old American Basketball Association as it is a vehicle for Ferrell’s pompous shtick, but his fans should appreciate it all the same.

Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, the flashy player-owner-coach of the Flint Michigan Tropics, a team slated to fold when the ABA merges with the NBA in 1976. Jackie convinces the commissioner that if the NBA wants to absorb only four ABA teams, it should be the best four, and he sets off to help his team claim fourth place. The only problem is, his team sucks.

Jackie trades the team’s washing machine for a cagey veteran named Monix (Harrelson, in his first basketball movie since White Men Can’t Jump), whose greatest career achievement was riding the bench in the NBA. To boost fan interest (reported attendance at one game is 97), Jackie will resort to every stunt in the book, even wrestling a bear.

Overwhelming Ferrell, however, are the Tropics announcers, hilariously played by Will Arnett and Andrew Daly. Their comic interactions between not only themselves but also other members of the team are priceless.

Deleted scenes flesh out more of the background of some of the characters, especially Jackie, while an alternate ending (narrated by Bob Costas) shows what happened to some of them.

Alterman’s efforts in successfully re-creating the spirit of the ABA are laid out in several behind-the-scenes featurettes. Sports fans will love the ABA retrospective special that fondly remembers the league that brought us the three-point line and the slam-dunk contest.

The only thing missing is a collection of the hilarious bud light commercials starring Ferrell as Jackie Moon, which have been airing the past few months.

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