Movie Mind Says:  Wait for PPV

If You Like This You Should Watch:  BASEketball, Balls of Fury
Better Than:  Beer League
Worse Than:  Blades of Glory, Kingpin

Semi-Pro

Starring: Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin, Maura Tierney

It’s hard to blame Will Ferrell. If someone wanted to hand you a ten-million dollar check to show up for a month in tight shorts and make an ass out of yourself, you’d probably do it too. It’s also not Hollywood’s fault since they keep raking in $100+ million for every “Will Ferrell in a new hairdo playing a new sport” movie they churn out. So then, wherein does the blame lie? The Movie Mind is taking the bullet for this one. It’s on me for not wanting to dish out the movie-theater money to be able to review this one early enough to warn you guys to stay away. Thankfully, judging by the box office numbers it looks like most of you did.

Ferrell is back this time playing the Owner/Coach/Promoter/Small Forward for the Flint Tropics, a fledgling ABA team fighting to earn money and put some butts in the seats. He is a skilled promoter and goes to great lengths to bring in fans (fighting a bear, jumping over 18 cheerleaders on roller skates), but is more concerned with the entertainment than the game itself. Ferrell’s character, Jackie Moon, might be a cross between Kurt Rambis and Luke Walton on the court but bears a closer semblance to a bad YMCA coach who admittedly is not an “X’s and O’s” guy. Due to the news that the ABA will be merging with the prestigious NBA at season’s end, it creates a stir amongst the teams and owners who scramble to be included in the transition. At first the teams who will be merged are already decided, but the commissioner agrees to admit the best 4 teams in the league. The race is on for the Flint Tropics to become that 4th place team. While this is no more than a humorous twist on sports movies who are always searching for the champion, it loses some relevance when the commish decides to change his decree to allow only teams who average a certain attendance. Moon goes from idiot owner who doesn’t care about winning to a concerned coach that brings in Woody Harrelson, a former NBA champion, to bring leadership to the squad. When the criteria is finally changed from wins to attendance we find out that winning doesn’t matter after all.

I expect a convoluted plot when I sit through a Ferrell movie; however it becomes more bothersome when the movie actually attempts to make something out of that nonsense. The movie began with some pretty humorous lines and situations with Ferrell playing ball and attempting to coach his group of misfits at the same time. By the time the first thirty minutes had passed, I felt as if this film was on track to become a hidden gem and I was excited to alert my readers about this discovery. Then the tempo of the film switched and began taking itself seriously. Now you may ask how a film where a guy wrestles a bear could take itself too seriously? When Woody Harrelson came on board the story decided to grab hold of the underdog concept and use that very overdone sports movie cliché they should have been making fun of in the first place!

Harrelson acted as if he was back in White Men Can’t Jump, displaying the same disgrace of a jumpshot that somehow convinced someone in Hollywood that he could actually play a lick. He ruined the tone of the film and pushed Ferrell into the background instead of capitalizing on this opportunity to let Ferrell just play basketball. This movie would have been much better if they just filmed Ferrell playing pickup 5-on-5.

The worn out 70’s look and jokes in the film were tired at best. It looked like they got half of the wardrobe from the closets of the Boogie Nights set. A nice surprise was the announcer duo of Will Arnett and Andrew Daly. An obvious rip-off taken from Bob Uecker’s defining role in Major League, they were still able to lend some comedic levity while the film droned on. I would not recommend this film to anyone. If anything it only makes me appreciate Blades of Glory even more. Ferrell has been going steadily downhill and it’s going to take a special performance to get him back on track.
Submitted 6-30-08

Interesting Cameo Appearance:  Jackie Earle Haley (Kelly Leak from Bad News Bears fame, but most recently named to the starting lineup of The Movie Mind’s “All-Star Movie Baseball Team”) as Dukes, a stoner who hits an unlikely ¾-court shot for $10,000…or just a really big check.

Memorable Quotes:
Jackie Moon:
At ball girl, measuring 34-23-34, she hopes to be an astronaut one day- I don’t think she can do it- put your hands together for Melindaaaaaa!

Lou Redwood: Jackie Moon has done more for this city than anyone in history!
Dick Pepperfield: Except for maybe Henry Ford… Jackie Moon has done a lot for this city.

Jackie Moon: In the anals of history people are going to be talking about three things: the discovery of fire, invention of the submarine, and the Flint, Michigan Mega Bowl.

Jackie Moon: Use small children as shields, bears like soft tender meat.

Lynn: You think I’ve forgotten that you cheated on me twice?
Monix: I only cheated on you once. There just happened to be two women.

Jackie Moon: No refunds, consider your refund escaping this death trap with your lives!

Dick Pepperfield: Lou, would you mind putting out that cigarette, it’s very unprofessional.
Lou Redwood: No. I like to smoke when I drink.

Dick Pepperfield: Jackie’s teammates are doing just an awful job of stabilizing his spine off the court.

Jackie Moon: It feels like I got cat piss in my eyes.

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