Thursday, July 3, 2008

AverageBro Goes To The Movies: Semi Pro

[With an infant, I don't get to go to the movies at all nowadays. Pre-AverageBaby, I didn't miss an opening weekend. Now, Netflix is my best friend. So, I don't see things in a timely manner, but when I do, you get the best review in town right here.]

There's two reasons why I don't go to the movies more often, and instead depend on Netflix months after the fact. First, and foremost if AverageToddler, who makes even sneaking up the street to a matinee an adventure my wife and I would rather not undertake. And second, but of equal importance is the fact that lots of movie just plain suck.

No actor embodies the "boom or bust" nature of major Hollywood releases more than Will Ferrell.

I dug Ferrell back in the days when SNL was still worth watching, so when he started slowly branching out and doing small parts in movies like Austin Powers, A Night At The Roxbury, and The Ladies Man, I knew it was only a matter of time before he started getting top billing. And while he's made quite a few good movies like Old School, Anchorman, and... well, that's about it, he's had an equal number of downright stinkers like Elf, Bewitched, Kicking and Screaming, Talladega Nights, and the straw that broke the proverbial AverageBro's back, Blades of Glory.

Blades of Glory was so awful, I kept waiting for Bokeem Woodbine[1] to skate out at any moment.

So when the basketball themed Semi Pro hit theaters a few months back, I resisted, despite being a hardcore hoops fan. Seriously, Anchorman was nearly a half-decade ago, and I don't exactly have a spare $40 just laying around to blow on movies nowadays, not with $7 Kashi and whatnot. So, despite the deluge of commercials during every NBA game this Winter, I successfully fought the temptation to ruin a tankful of gas on what was certainly Ferrell's latest bust. Heck, the movie was panned by critics and only grossed $33M, which made it Ferrell's worst showing as a headliner yet.

But after finally catching this movie on Netflix this weekend, I gotta say, this is probably the best Will Ferrell movie yet. No, seriously. It's that good.

Taking place in the mid-70's, Semi Pro stars Ferrell as a washed up disco singer named Jackie Moon who parlayed the royalties from his platinum selling single "Love Me Sexy"[2] into the purchase of an ABA basketball team, called the Flint Tropics. Yeah, the Flint, Michigan Tropics. Not content merely owning the team, the pudgy Moon also serves as coach and starting power forward. To nobody's surprise, the team sucks, and with the ABA's upcoming merger with the NBA, the Tropics are set to be contracted. To save the franchise, Moon finds out he must not only start winning games, but actually get some fans in the seats to prove the team can draw. Hilarity ensues.

This probably doesn't sound too funny, but neither did a movie about San Diego newscasters. And you know how that one turned out.

Ferrell plays his typical "thinks he's cool but is completely oblivious to the fact that he isn't" guy you've seen in a million movies before, but the camp factor here is so high that it all seems to work. Andre 3000 of Outkast does a credible job as the team's star player, who changes names about a half-dozen times during the movie. Woody Harrelson is actually likeable as the player/coach who takes over for Moon and finally gets the team on track. Familiar faces like Andy Richter and Tim Meadows round out the cast.

Maybe it's because I had lowered expectations, but this movie was hilarious to me. I literally laughed from the first 10 seconds (when "Love Me Sexy" was cued) to the closing credits. I mean, seriously, you know what kinda notorious hater I am, so if I liked it, you probably will too. The version I got on DVD didn't have any extra features to speak of, but otherwise, I give this one a thumbs up.

I suspect this movie didn't do better because of it's basketball-themed plot. This movie takes place in the 70's and will be a joy for basketball purists who know a little something about the NBA/ABA merger. But let's face it, pro basketball isn't the most popular of sports for many reasons, which is my guess why other sports themed duds like Kicking and Screaming (soccer), Talladega Nights (NASCAR), and Blades of Glory (ice skating) fared better at the box office. Or at least that's my guess.

Either way, whether you like basketball or not, if you wanna catch a funny movie, give Semi Pro a rent.

Final Verdict: Throw this in your Netflix Queue now! 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Official Semi-Pro Movie Site

[1] That man knows a thing or three about bad movies.

[2] Has anyone heard the remix of this with Lil' Wayne? No, seriously.

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