out of Five
Running time: 90
Disappointing, poorly written and essentially laugh free comedy that wastes a strong comic cast.
What's it all about?
Set in the 1970s, Semi-Pro stars Will Ferrell as Jackie Moon, a former one-hit wonder turned basketball owner, coach and player with his team, the Flint Michigan Tropics. However, when the NBA announces plans to merge with the ABA and take only the four most successful ABA teams, Jackie has to find a way to keep his ailing team from being disbanded.
Jackie gets a boost when he trades the team's washing machine for former NBA benchwarmer Monix (Woody Harrelson), who sets about trying to get the team into shape, even if it means upsetting the Tropics' star player, Clarence "Downtown" Withers (Andre Benjamin). But will Monix's secret, never-before-seen move be enough to save the day?
The main problem is the script, which veers all over the place with a practically non-existent plot, half-heartedly attempting and then abandoning the occasional sub-plot, such as Monix's romance with his ex-girlfriend (an under-used Maura Tierney). It also wastes a fine comedy cast that includes Will Arnett (probably the funniest thing in the movie as a sports announcer, though that isn't saying much) and Andre Benjamin, who delivers a performance that is much better than the film really deserves.
Given the success of Talladega Nights, you can forgive Will Ferrell for continuing to chase sports comedy gold, but after the relative disappointments of Blades of Glory (which at least had a few decent laughs), Kicking and Screaming and now Semi-Pro, it might be time for him to finally hang up the jockstrap. Sadly, this is painfully unfunny from start to finish, despite the presence of a scene where Ferrell wrestles a bear. It's also fair to say that Ferrell's a little bit off his game here, as he delivers a lazy performance that seems to indicate that his heart's not really in it.
In short, this is a disappointing comedy that even die-hard Ferrell fans will struggle to enjoy.