The only so-so Semi-Pro just proves Will Ferrell, although being one of the funnier people on the planet, definitely needs new material.
Set in 1976, an arrogant doofus--who loves booze, partying and women--buys an underdog professional basketball team and basically runs it into the ground, until he is inspired to take his rag-tag team all the way to the NBA. Sound familiar? Semi-Pro is pretty much a mixture of every other Will Ferrell movie. He plays Jackie Moon, a one-hit wonder who buys the Flint Michigan Tropics off the proceeds of his hit song "Love Me Sexy." and tries to coach them, even playing on the team. But he ends up dragging them down to last place with his promotional antics. And when the wild and crazy ABA basketball league--known for its slam dunk contests--is about to merge with the all-powerful NBA, the Tropics only have one shot to make the cut. Can they pull themselves together in time? This is an underdog sports movie after all.
It's really the same old Will Ferrell shtick in Semi-Pro. Sometimes it's hilarious, but unfortunately after Anchorman, Kicking & Screaming, Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory, much of it is rehash. Tiresome rehash. Nevertheless, Ferrell has surrounded himself with another eclectic crew, mixing some old favorites with new faces: old Ferrell cronies include David Koechner as the ABA commissioner and Will Arnett as a Tropics sports announcer, while the newbies include Andre Benjamin as Clarence "Coffee" Black, the Tropics star player, and Woody Harrelson as Ed Monix, a veteran player Moon brings in to help the team. Think of Monix as Bull Durham's Crash Davis, who once played in the show but has been demoted to the B leagues. Oddly enough, Harrelson actually brings some dignity to the otherwise silly proceedings.
Veteran executive producer Kent Alterman, who has overseen such diverse films as Balls of Fury and Little Children, helms his first feature film with Semi-Pro--and that's basically how the film comes off: semi-professional. Alterman probably figured he only had to point and shoot, which is mostly the case, and doesn't do anything above and beyond. The real effort comes from the script, written by comedy veteran Scot Armstrong (Old School, Starsky & Hutch). The first half of the film is pure Will Ferrell non sequitur fodder--beginning with Moon singing his hit "Love Me Sexy" (lyrics also included is "Lick Me Sexy" and "Hump Me Sexy") and the obligatory scene of Moon sitting around with his buddies saying "nutty things because they're not true." Then there's the bear wrestling scene. Ferrell must have a thing for the big furry animals (remember the bear pit in Anchorman?) Unfortunately, the outrageousness lessens in the second half of the film, becoming your straight forward underdog movie. If Semi-Pro is a huge hit, Ferrell won't stop making these movies; but if it falls flat, maybe he'll think of ways to reinvent himself. One can only hope.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.