In "Semi-Pro," Will Ferrell plays a lumpy, horny, egotistical, not-very-bright sports figure who nonetheless manages to charm us. Not exactly new comedic ground for the big guy. I was a fan of “Talladega Nights” and “Kicking and Screaming” and “Even Blades of Glory,” but this basketball comedy clangs off the rim. Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, the owner/coach/power forward for the Flint Tropics, a struggling team in the dying ABA in the mid-1970s.
Ferrell’s funny in his sleep and I did laugh out loud from time to time, but the basketball scenes are uninspired and poorly filmed, and the period-piece fashions and styles are just echoes of the jokes we saw in “Anchorman.” Looks like Woody Harrelson borrowed Randy Quaid’s wig from “Kingpin” for his underveloped role as Monix, a former NBA benchwarmer who has just joined the Tropics.
With its red-white-and blue basketballs, innovations such as the three-point shot and the slam-dunk contest, and such stars as Dr. J and Marvin “Bad News” Barnes, the real American Basketball Association was a colorful, offbeat alternative to the NBA. Ferrell’s obviously a fan of the defunct league, but there’s no attempt here to ground the comedy in any kind of alternative reality. This is just pure slapstick and potty-mouthed humor. Some of the gags are funny. Many more seem played out. Talented supporting players such as Andre Benjamin and Maura Tierney have very little to do. Will Ferrell is just too funny to make an awful comedy, but “Semi-Pro” is semi-bad.