Semi-Pro Kent Alterman

Semi-Pro Kent Alterman
Much like Talladega Nights, this new comedy was most likely green light on its premise alone: Will Ferrell playing ABA basketball in 1976. Apart from the throwback fashions and dated hairstyles though, there’s not much going on with Semi-Pro, which basically plays like past Ferrell hits rolled into one (with substantial nods to Dodgeball), but without the execution and with very little laughs.

Jackie Moon (Ferrell) and his bumbling team-mates seem to have come to terms with the fact they’ll never be a premier franchise in the ABA and tend to hit the court each night with low expectations and a very small but supportive fan base in the stands. Along with being the self-appointed star player of the team, Jackie’s also the coach, promoter and owner of the Flint Michigan Tropics.

When rumours circulate about the ABA merging with the NBA, he assures his team he won’t let them be dissolved. Jackie receives a rude awakening when he realises the lesser teams (including his Tropics) won’t make the cut, but he somehow manages to convince the board to allow the top four teams at the end of the current season to move on.

Despite the Tropics’ dismal attendance and brutal record, Jackie somehow manages to make his team respectable with the help of the washed-up Monix (Woody Harrelson), who has an NBA championship ring. There’s some small doses of a romance between Monix and ex-flame Lynn (Maura Tierney) but the film never decides which character is supposed to be the lead focus, and the ideas are so half-assed they tend to blur into one another, with nothing taking centre stage.

The script appears to just have had vague ideas plotted out in hopes that the film’s undeniably talented cast could improvise the rest, but nothing solid ever materialises and what we’re left with are very random characters finding themselves in pointless oddball scenarios (i.e., bear wrestling, Russian roulette) in hopes of generating laughs, but there’s nothing that funny or memorable about this film.

At least the soundtrack has Curtis Mayfield and Average White Band. (Alliance)