Lowdown: A crazy basketball comedy.
It’s weird when I think about it, but I hardly knew anything about Semi-Pro when I rented its Blu-ray out. It had Will Ferrell on its cover with an afro and a basketball, and that was all I need to know. Indeed, I got what I paid for: a crazy loud laughter filled hour and a half with Ferrell.
Semi Pro is not just a crazy comedy, though. Somehow, it manages to tell the true story of the ABA’s merger with the NBA back in the seventies. In the basketball world, the NBA was the place to be whereas the ABA was somewhere between pro and amateur. The powers that be decided to take the best four teams off the ABA and merge them to the NBA while dismantling the rest of the ABA. Semi-Pro tells us this story through Jackie Moon (Ferrell), the owner, manager and dominant player of the Tropics ABA team from the small town of Flint, Michigan.
The trouble is that Moon is not a pro. He has good intentions, he knows how to give a good show, he loves his team and dedicates a lot of himself to it, but being an ex-singer he’s not much of a pro basketballer. Help comes in the way of Monix (a Woody Harrelson armed with a sexy wig), an old geezer ex Boston Celtics player who sat through the entire finals on the bench while the Celtics won the NBA title. Traded for a washing machine, Monix can provide the professionalism while Moon can provide the showmanship.
Will that be good enough for the Tropics to come at the top four? Will coming at the top four be good enough, given the Tropics’ crowd attendance is lesser than the number of honest people in parliament? Well, this is where the film goes crazy and this is where most of the laughs come from as Ferrell does what Ferrell is famous for doing: crazy stuff. Thus a film that is pretty silly all the way becomes seriously funny, with Ferrell wrestling a bear, Ferrell choreographing half time shows for the crowd, Ferrell organizing competitions with prizes he can never afford (free food if the Tropics score more than a hundred or so points, which then send him to play against his team when they do too well), and the general chemistry between the team players. Overall we’re dealing with characters dumb enough to play with guns and end up shooting themselves, so you can easily tell how silly Semi-Pro is; yet it’s undeniably funny. And stupidly so.
Best scene: Ferrell, as Jackie Moon, performing his song “Love Me Sexy”. It’s amazing that it works and just how well it works. Given the genre, seventies type soul, this is one excellent song by its own rights! The Ferrell treatment makes it even funnier.
Technical assessment: This is a mediocre production as far as the Blu-ray platform is concerned, but the DTS HD soundtrack shines. Despite the significantly less than awesome artistic quality of the soundtrack, it provides an air that you simply can’t get with Dolby Digital and its likes and which makes the whole movie watching affair that much more pleasurable.
Overall: Very silly, but I have to give it credit for making me laugh so hard. At 3 out of 5 stars, this is pure entertainment.