Remember when Jim Carrey was the go-to-guy for hilarious comedy before his act became repetitive, old, and outdated. This same process is happening to Will Ferrell. With early successes in Anchorman and Talladega Nights, Ferrell has become one-dimensional with his characters. This will be Will Ferrell’s fourth sports comedy in four years, and in this case, he again plays the drunk, fat sports figure. Wait, didn’t he play that character in Blades of Glory? No, wait that was Talladega Nights. They all start to run together.
Will Ferrell is Jackie Moon, a one-hit wonder who used the payoff from his hit song “Love Me Sexy” to buy the Flint, Michigan Tropics in the now dissolved American Basketball Association (ABA). Along with owner, Moon becomes the head coach and starting power forward for the team. When he finds out that only four of the ABA’s teams are going to be absorbed into the NBA at the end of the 1976 season, Moon proposes that the four teams with the best records at the end of the season should be absorbed. What you get next is your typical “underdog story”, common to many sports comedies.
Unlike Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell requires a solid supporting cast to work from. The supporting cast in Ferrell’s films is usually what keeps the film a float. In Anchorman, Ferrell had Paul Rudd and Steve Carell. In Talladega Nights, he had John C. Reilly and Sacha Baron Cohen. In Blades of Glory, he had Jon Heder and Craig T. Nelson. And in Semi-Pro, he has Woody Harrelson and Andre Benjamin. Woody Harrelson is Ed Monix, in what could be called a serious role, who plays a NBA player who is traded to the Tropics and brings a sort of professionalism to the team. Andre Benjamin is Clarence “Coffee” Black, the very talented, yet very lackadaisical star of the Tropics, who eventually has to make a decision about his professional basketball career with a little help from Monix.
Screenwriter Scot Armstrong recycles many of Ferrell’s past jokes, which many fans will acknowledge. To lure larger crowds to Tropics games, Moon agrees to wrestle a bear. It’s similar to when Ferrell wrestled a cougar in Talladega Nights, and is precisely like the time he wrestled a bear in Anchorman. In a variety of his films, Ferrell’s characters are often drunk and fat, and continuously find themselves ripping off their clothes and running around in a pair of dirty tighty-whiteys.
As an avid basketball fan and quality player, I don’t know if I should be offended or gratified by this film. On one hand, the film promotes team basketball and getting everyone involved. On the other hand, the film continuously mocks the game of basketball by utilizing showboating and cussing, something not needed for the younger generations. I did enjoy the skit about the invention of the alley-opp, where everyone was in confusion on how the player could receive a pass in flight and dunk the ball.
With a rating of R for language and some sexual content, this film is not for anyone under the age of 16. Semi-Pro is a film for the die-hard Ferrell fans. Ferrell’s career as a comedic genius is in decline, and I don’t know if he will be able to get out of this rut if he keeps doing the same characters in each of his films. With Jim Carrey and now Will Ferrell going into decline, the go-to-guy in comedy has now passed to Judd Apatow, of The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad fame. Hopefully, Apatow will avoid those repetitive storylines and characters that have plagued Carrey and now Ferrell’s careers.