I’m a big fan of Will Ferrell and enjoy most of his work. However, he’s starting to fall into the typical Hollywood trap with some of his work getting pretty formulaic. Unfortunately, Semi Pro is one of those films.
While it’s not a bad film on it’s own, it’s main problem for me is that his characters are starting to be a bit interchangeable. Even some of the side characters are starting to share that same stigma. The character this time is Jackie Moon, a somewhat washed up semi-pro basketball player in the 70’s that’s on his way out as his league (the ABA) is on the midst of merging with the NBA and Jackie’s team is one of the team’s that is potentially being phased out completely. So he’s basically trying to save or revitalize his career in the process. His character is the typical over-the-top kind of guy you’ve come to expect from some of his other movies in that Jackie Moon is pretty much a revamp (with bigger hair) of his Chazz Michael Michaels character from Blades of Glory (which I loved and thought was hysterical).
There are some strong points here and there but for the most part it’s Will Ferrell doing what Will Ferrell does – over the top character, occasional gross humor, some cheezy, fun music, and formulaic bits you’ve seen before. Woody Harrelson is also in the film as a former big-league player (who’s never really seen a lot of court time) and is ok in the role. Unfortunately I didn’t think they played off of Woody enough in this film as he has more range than people give him credit for. Most of the comedy centered around Ferrell as the primary vehicle for the deliveries as most of the support characters were more the straight-man variety.
Will Arnett does a great job as the obnoxious sportscaster alongside his straight-laced counterpart. They deliver some fun dialog and awkward moments back and forth, but again, you’ve seen it before and probably done better here and there in other comedies of this same nature (ex. Gary Cole and Jason Bateman in Dodgeball).
Overall, this film isn’t maybe something you’d bump to the top of your Netflix list, but it’s not a bad way to kill a little time on a Sunday afternoon if you happen to catch it on HBO.
reviewed by Sean McKnight