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Vol. LXII, No. 10
 
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.


SHOOTING FOR THE MOON: Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell, back shown in center of picture) attempts to make a free throw basket so that his team, the Tropics, can win enough games to at least finish fourth in their league so that they can then merge with the NBA at the end of the season.

Semi-Pro: Will Ferrell Takes to Basketball in Latest Sports Spoof

Kam Williams

How many silly sports movies can Will Ferrell churn out before his legions of fans get fed up and tell him he’s finally milked the genre dry? In 2005, he portrayed a soccer dad in Kicking and Screaming. The next year, he was a race car driver in Talladega Nights. And in 2007 he was a flamboyant figure skater entering doubles competitions with another man as his partner.

Now, in Semi-Pro, a comedy set in 1976, Ferrell brings his bawdy tomfoolery to basketball. As Jackie Moon, he’s playing a one-hit singer who becomes player, coach, and owner of the Flint Tropics which he has purchased with money from his only Top 40 single, “Love Me Sexy.”

At the beginning of the film, the last place team looks like it was a horrible investment since attendance is down because of the economic recession which has hit the State of Michigan. So, Jackie resorts to desperate measures to get more fans to come to the games. But even these promotions tend to backfire, for example, when a hippie (Jackie Earle Haley), miraculously sinks a full court shot for a $10,000 prize during a halftime contest, despite being high as a kite at the time.

A ray of hope for the team arrives when the ABA Commissioner (David Koechner) announces an impending merger with the NBA. However, only the four best teams in the league will be included in the merger, and the rest of the clubs in the league will be disbanded. So, the question for the Tropics is whether the prospect of playing in the NBA will inspire the team to give their all and finish in fourth place by the end of the season.

The film also features a couple of subplots: one, a love triangle involving an ex-girlfriend (Maura Tierney) whom Jackie is trying to win back and, second, the off-air badinage between the team’s play-by-play announcers (Will Arnett and Andrew Daly). However, neither of these sidebars advance the main story because this is, above all, an infantile Will Ferrell movie.

True to the Ferrell formula, going for the joke trumps character development at every turn, with much of the humor being nonsensical sight gags, slapstick and non-sequiturs, and such seventies-era fashion statements as cotton-candy afros, garish color schemes, and leisure suits. Each Tropics team member is patterned after a familiar caricature, such as the trash-talking showboat (Andrew Benjamin), the aging veteran (Woody Harrelson), or the gangly Eastern European import (Peter Cornell).

Kent Alterman makes a decent directorial debut here, though he packed the screen with underused comedians (Tim Meadows, DeRay Davis, Charlyne Yi, Rob Corddry, and Andy Richter) plus pop diva Patti LaBelle. Not much is asked of them except for wide-eyed reactions to Moon’s manic misbehavior. Watch him wrestle a bear, or shoot somebody while playing Russian roulette, or almost successfully execute a jump on rollerblades over a long row of cheerleaders lying on the court!

Another goofy spoof strictly for the Ferrell faithful who apparently never tire of such fare.

Good (2 stars). Rated R for profanity and crude humor. Running time: 85 minutes. Studio: New Line Cinema.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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