Will Ferrell returns to the well yet again with Semi-Pro, a 2008 sports comedy. Directed by Kent Alterman in his directorial debut, Semi-Pro lacks the humour and punch of many of Ferrell’s other comedies. It also lacks the energy of Blades of Glory or Talladega Nights, instead focusing on being an homage to the style of the 1970s and to the American Basketball Association. The jokes come in two varieties here: over-the-top and referential. The jokes that fall in the latter category work best, as many of the over-the-top attempts are odd but not odd enough to be funny.
Ferrell stars as Jackie Moon, a 1970s singer who used the profits from his hit single “Love Me Sexy” to purchase the Flint Tropics basketball team in the American Basketball Association. The film opens with a funny montage of Moon’s life thus far, showing bits of his hit song and newspaper clippings that describe his tendency to use bizarre gimmicks to bring fans to Tropics games. The montage closes with Moon still singing “Love Me Sexy” to a ridiculously small crowd at the Flint Coliseum. Jackie, we discover, is the owner/player/coach/promoter of the Tropics.
Eventually, the ABA Commissioner (David Koechner) tells Moon about plans for the ABA to merge with the NBA. Only four teams will move to the NBA, however, and the rest of the teams will be dissolved. Jackie’s team is in danger of dissolution, as they sit in the basement of the league and have a non-existent fan base. Moon argues that the best teams in the league should get to move to the NBA and then tries to turn his Tropics around with the help of NBA champion Ed Monix (Woody Harrelson).
Semi-Pro works best when it tries to capitalize on some of the more ridiculous ideas that Moon has to promote his team. While the execution of those ideas is less than humorous, the film still manages to create a decent chuckle here and there. Alterman’s film, it turns out, is more fun to think about than to actually see and experience. One imagines that the script reading must have been very funny, but the finished product is less than amusing. As with most Ferrell comedies, there are a few laughs to be had, but Semi-Pro stretches them out too sparingly for the film to be fairly considered a worthwhile comedy.