Sunday, March 02, 2008

New Movie Review: "Semi-Pro"

Will Ferrell, in a sports movie? Haven't we seen this before, at least a thousand times? Yes. Haven't we seen Will Ferrell play the guy with the way healthy ego a bunch of times too? Yes.

But Semi-Pro is a bit different from what has come before. It isn't as off the wall absurb as Talledega Nights or Blades of Glory. It doesn't focus solely on Will Ferrell's character, Jackie Moon, as the ads would have you think. Rather, there is significant screentime for Woody Harrelson's Monix and Andre Benjamin's (Andre 3000 from the group Outkast) Coffee Black.

The movie is typical sports movie fare: Ferrell owns the ABA team The Flint Tropics. The ABA was another basketball league that popped up in the 70s. It was eventually merged into the NBA. Here, Ferrell's Moon is a proud man who doesn't want to lose his team in the merger (only 4 teams with cross over to the NBA. The Tropics suck so badly, they are in last place and barely draw anyone). Moon makes a deal that the top 4 teams should be merged and then he works towards improving his team by trading for the former NBA player Monix. Moon isn't much of anything, except for a great promoter (one who doesn't like to give out the 10,000 dollars someone wins for making a cross court foul shot or giving everyone a free corndog for scoring over 125 points).

Since the focus is spread around, the typical Ferrell character fall doesn't happen. Moon does hit rock bottom at one point, but it isn't a loud fall like in Ferrell's other movies. Moon, unlike Ricky Bobby et al., actually cares about other people exemplified by his motto: "Everybody Love Everybody." It was refreshing to see a Will Ferrell movie not a cookiecutter "remake" of his other movies.

Alongside Harrelson and Benjamin, the film has a great cast including Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Maura Tierny (ER). Arnett shines as the surly play-by-play announcer, often with a scotch and a smoke in his hand. Even Oscar nominated actor Jackie Earle Haley shows up in an extended cameo. As per usual, a comedy is only as good as the supporting cast.

While the commercials for Semi-Pro aren't doing the movie any favors (focusing solely on Ferrell, revealing some of the funnier jokes), the film is an entertaining way to kill some time.

3 Escaped Bears out of 5

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