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Kent Alterman
Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, André Benjamin, DeRay Davis, Maura Tierney, Andrew Daly, Will Arnett, Andy Richter, David Koechner, Rob Corddry
Writing Credits:
Scot Armstrong

Putting the funk into the dunk.

Will Ferrell stars in Semi-Pro ... an outrageous comedy set in 1976 against the backdrop of the maverick ABA - a fast-paced wild and crazy basketball league that rivaled the NBA and made a name for itself with innovations like the three-point shot and slam dunk contest. Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, a one-hit wonder who used the profits from the success of his chart-topping song "Love Me Sexy" to achieve his dream of owning a basketball team. But Moon's franchise, the Flint Michigan Tropics, is the worst team in the league and in danger of folding when the ABA announces its plans to merge with the NBA. If they want to survive, Jackie and the Tropics must now do the seemingly impossible - win.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$15.075 million on 3121 screens.
Domestic Gross
$33.472 million.

Rated NR

Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 99 min. (Extended Version) / 92 min. (Theatrical Cut)
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 6/3/2008

DVD One:
• Both Theatrical and Extended Versions of the Film
• Sneak Peeks
DVD Two:
• Four Deleted/Alternate Scenes
• Improv Sequences
• “A Short History of the ABA” Featurette
•”Re-Creating the ABA” Featurette
•”’Love Me Sexy’ – The Story Behind the One Hit Wonder” Featurette
• “Bill Walton Visits the Set” Featurette
• “Four Days in Flint” Featurette
• “The Man Behind Semi-Pro” Featurette
• Music Video
• “Flint Tropics Hot Talk With Dick Pepperfield” Audio Excerpts
• Trailers


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Semi-Pro: Unrated "Let's Get Sweaty" Edition (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 25, 2008)

Am I the only one who thought that 2008’s Semi-Pro was a remake of 1977’s Burt Reynolds effort Semi-Tough? Probably, but what’re ya gonna do? Though both are comedies that deal with sports, I don’t think any other similarities occur.

Set in 1976, Will Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, the owner/head coach/star player of the ABA’s Flint Tropics basketball team. The squad’s seen better times in terms of attendance, and the ABA struggles as a league. Rumors abound that the ABA will merge with the NBA, and that’s true, but this comes with a price: only four squads will fold into the bigger league while the others will dissolve.

Since the ABA chiefs don’t pick the Tropics as one of the lucky four, Jackie goes ballistic and insists that the merger become performance based: the four best teams will go to the NBA. Since the Tropics aren’t a great squad, it seems unlikely they’ll make it to fourth place, but Jackie does his best to get them to improve. We follow their progress as they attempt to survive.

Are audiences getting tired of Ferrell’s wild man-child persona? The returns for Semi-Pro indicate a firm “maybe”. It’s too soon to generalize, but the flick underperformed in a surprising manner; it took in a mere $33 million, which was a big drop from the $118 made by 2007 Blades of Glory.

We’ll have to wait and see if this box office disappointment is the start of a trend or just a blip, but I do think that Semi-Pro probably didn’t deserve its fate. While the film doesn’t stand out as a classic comedy, it proves consistently entertaining and enjoyable.

Though I must admit Ferrell stands as its weakest link. He often seems unconnected to the other actors. While they play for laughs, they tend to do so with reasonably natural undertones. On the other hand, Ferrell goes wildly over the top throughout the flick, and it often feels like he’s acting in a different movie.

I’d also prefer more of a focus on Woody Harrelson’s character. Ed Monix is a washed-up former NBA player who comes to the Tropics in a dubious trade. His side of things adds heart to the proceedings, and Harrelson is also considerably funnier than Ferrell. I can’t help but wonder if the story originally intended to show more Monix and less Moon but changed the perspective when Ferrell came on-board; after all, he’s a much bigger box office draw than Harrelson.

The whole story of Semi-Pro rarely coalesces. It’s not exactly a tight narrative, as it tends to wobble around without much purpose much of the time. I expect some of that from a flick of this sort; heck, even a much beloved movie like Caddyshack suffers from storytelling problems. That doesn’t forgive the looseness seen here, though.

Even with all these complaints, I think Semi-Pro entertains. It’s a “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” kind of movie. I could knock it all day long, as it does come with more than a few problems. Nonetheless, it manages to keep us interested and amused. At no time does it threaten to become a great comedy, but it does enough to succeed.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Semi-Pro appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Picture quality remained positive throughout the movie.

Only minor issues affected sharpness. Occasional wide shots a little iffy, but those were infrequent. The majority of the film seemed accurate and concise. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws also failed to crate any distractions.

Flicks from the Seventies favor heavy, garish hues, and that held true for Semi-Pro. It went with loud oranges, blues and reds that fit the setting and looked solid. Blacks appeared deep and firm, while shadows seemed clear and well-developed. I felt pleased wit this consistently fine transfer.

I also liked the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Semi-Pro, as it provided an unusually active affair for a comedy. The basketball games offered the best use of the various speakers, as they opened things up to a nice degree. This may be the first example of exploding nachos in the surrounds, and plenty of other information popped up around the spectrum. All the info blended well to create a good sense of environment.

Audio quality was also good. Speech could be a little metallic, but the lines were consistently intelligible and without serious flaws. Music showed nice range and clarity, as the score and songs boasted solid low-end. Effects were also concise and accurate throughout the film. This was a surprisingly involving track.

The vast majority of the set’s extras appear on DVD Two. The big attraction on DVD One comes from its inclusion of both Theatrical and Extended Versions of the film. The former lasts 91 minutes, 22 seconds, while the latter goes for 98 minutes, 24 seconds. I only watched the longer cut so I can’t compare them, but I like the fact they both appear.

A few ads open DVD One. We get clips for Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Shoot ‘Em Upand Run, Fat Boy, Run. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with promos for Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show, Mama’s Boy, The Bucket List and Rocket Science.

Over on DVD Two, we open with four Deleted/Alternate Scenes. These fill a total of six minutes, 36 seconds and include “Dick Pepperfield Opening” (1:27), “Monix Prologue” (1:58), “Tropical Fever Dance” (0:54) and “Alternate Ending: Where Are They Now?” (2:17). “Opening” offers a start to the movie that would’ve been extremely expository; it’s clunky and was a good cut. “Prologue” is a decent intro to the Monix character that must’ve been a difficult omission if just because it features a cameo by Amy Sedaris. “Dance” is nothing special, as it just shows the silliness of the players in their goofy costumes. “Ending” is conventional but entertaining.

More cut footage comes under Improv. This area presents “Dick and Lou” (1:39), “Tropics Weekly” (3:42) and “Andy, Amy and Will” (3:17). These all offer multiple takes of particular scenes. Quite a lot of amusing material appears in these segments.

Six featurettes show up in the “Behind the Scenes” domain. A Short History of the ABA runs six minutes, 50 seconds and features director Kent Alterman, writer Scot Armstrong, former pro players James Silas, Jerome “Pooh” Richardson, Artis Gilmore, and George Gervin, and actor Will Ferrell. We get a few general notes about the ABA and how it differed from the NBA. Expect a smattering of interesting facts, but mostly the show just tells us “the ABA was really cool!”

Period details dominate the 12-minute and 45-second Re-creating the ABA. It offers notes from Alterman, Armstrong, Ferrell, Richardson, Silas, Gervin, And1 streetballer Grayson “The Professor” Boucher, and actors Andre Benjamin, Jay Phillips, and Josh Braaten. The program covers the actors’ basketball training camp, casting basketball extras, and efforts to make the movie as authentic as possible.

Like “History”, “Re-creating” tends to be superficial, but it proves reasonably satisfying. I especially like the info about the arena sets, and the shots of the training camp are also good. It’s too fluffy, but it’s enjoyable.

We learn more about the movie’s iconic song in ”Love Me Sexy” – The Story Behind the One Hit Wonder. It goes for five minutes, 24 seconds and provides remarks from Ferrell, Alterman, music producer Niles Rodgers, and actor Patti Labelle. We learn a little about the creation of the movie’s iconic song. Again, we find a smattering of nice notes but not a wealth of interesting material. Still, it’s short and painless.

A basketball legend stops by during the two-minute and 39-second Bill Walton Visits the Set. We hear from Ferrell, Alterman, and head hair stylist Bridget Cook. Although we see a little of Walton’s stop on the set, Alterman’s story about his days as an obnoxious teen Spurs fan dominates. It’s an entertaining piece.

Four Days in Flint lasts five minutes, 38 seconds and presents comments from Alterman as he discusses the movie’s brief time on location in Michigan. Like its predecessors, the featurette suffers from a superficial tone. We get a few decent details but not much.

Finally, The Man Behind Semi-Pro runs 24 minutes and features Alterman, Armstrong, Ferrell, Gervin, Benjamin, and actors Woody Harrelson, Andy Richter, Rob Corddry, Will Arnett, Maura Tierney, Andrew Daly, and Jackie Earle Haley. “Man” looks at the film’s story and path to the screen, Alterman’s take on the material and his long-time love of the Spurs, aspects of the ABA, cast and performances. Given its length, I hoped “Man” would be deeper than the other shows. Unfortunately, it emphasizes happy talk, with lots of praise for Alterman. It still dollops out some useful notes, but not enough to carry 24 minutes.

A few components pop up under the “Promotions” banner. We get the music video for “Love Me Sexy”. It essentially just uses movie outtakes, a fact that makes it pretty dull.

Flint Tropics Hot Talk with Dick Pepperfield provides some additional material. Two clips appear: “Ball Girls” (1:14) and “Pancakes and Camels” (1:25). These are fake promotional reels created… well, I’m not sure where they aired. Nonetheless, they’re amusing.

We also get three trailers. There’s a teaser, a standard trailer, and a “Red Band” trailer; that’s the one that’s for restricted audiences. The teaser is the most interesting of the bunch, though.

Though Semi-Pro suffers from a mix of flaws, I can’t call it a bad movie. I can’t call it a good one, either, but I think it entertains well enough to succeed on a modest level. The DVD provides very good picture and audio along with some generally superficial extras. Chalk this one up as a rental.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7222 Stars Number of Votes: 18
2 3:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main