It’s hard not to argue that Semi-Pro should be the last of the Will Ferrell sports comedies, but it’s also a good way for him to go out. No, it doesn’t make you double over like Old School or Anchorman, but Semi-Pro feels more like a movie Ferrell wanted to make and less like those career black eyes Blades of Glory and Kicking and Screaming. This is more in the Talladega Nights realm, although Semi-Pro has fewer memorable moments but also fewer lulls.
Set in the 1970s in financially depressed Flint, Michigan, the raunchy, R-rated Semi-Pro stars Ferrell as Jackie Moon, who spun the success of his hit single “Love Me Sexy” into an ownership stake in the town’s struggling ABA franchise, the Flint Tropics. Because when you think island oasis, you think Flint, Michigan.
Moon never strays far from the spotlight, so in addition to owning the team, he coaches and plays, and choreographs the halftime shows. He sings his one and only hit before every game then announces his teammates with personal notes like, “His wife has big cans.”
The Tropics are a cross between the Bad News Bears and the prison football team from The Longest Yard, with one talented player (Andre “3000” Benjamin from OutKast) and a bunch of guys who can’t quit their day jobs at the local car wash because the Tropics aren’t exactly paying current NBA salaries.
Played for big laughs, the most consistent performances here aren’t the most obvious ones: Woody Harrelson is great as serious relief and he’s probably the heart of the movie. Also sensational is Mad TV alumnus Andrew Daly as the Tropics' straight-laced play-by-play announcer.
But Ferrell’s still the star and he’s still Will Ferrell. And though it’s too late for him to go out on top with his sports comedies, he can at least move on now knowing he made his final shot.
Starring Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson and Andre Benjamin
Directed by Kent Alterman