Making the Grades
Mid-life guys doing stupid adult tricks are becoming big business in movies lately, and Will Ferrell -- now in his 40th year -- appears eager to jump on the bandwagon. In Semi-Pro he plays Jackie Moon, a one-man basketball machine in Flint Michigan. He also once had a singing career.
Thanks to the profits he acquired from his hit disco song Love Me Sexy, Jackie was able to purchase a franchise in the struggling American Basketball Association (ABA). Holding the positions of owner, coach, promoter and star player, he begins each game with his hit single and then struts his stuff on the court. The other players are truly extras whose only job is to make the groovy guy look as good as possible, and exchange profanities and insults between dismal game plays.
But being a legend in your own mind isn't necessarily good for business. With low numbers on the scoreboard and in the stands, the Flint Tropics are barely surviving. Meanwhile the ABA isn't faring much better and decides to accept a merger offer from the NBA. The deal will bring a big opportunity -- but only for four of the fledgling league's teams. Somehow the Tropics need to pull themselves up into fourth place position and fill up a few more seats.
With only a washing machine left in his collection of assets, Jackie manages to get another has-been on his roster in exchange for the appliance. Monix (Woody Harrelson) played on a winning NBA team, but spent most of his time on the bench. Eager to return to Flint so he can try and reignite a relationship with an old friend, the seasoned pro is truly serious about making the Tropics into a hot commodity -- a change that is welcomed by the other players.
Not surprisingly, this US MPAA R-rated comedy features gobs of profanities, crass sexual remarks, expletives and innuendo that are typical for this genre. Insensitive remarks about mentally challenged people and frequent camera views of the team's "ball girls" (i.e. cheerleaders dressed in bikinis) along with multiple scenes of people smoking tobacco products are additional concerns. Finally, a dangerous scene where a group of men pretend to shoot each other with a presumably unloaded gun is definitely an amusement no one should mimic.
Written by Scot Armstrong, the creator of School for Scoundrels and Starsky & Hutch, the only favorable element is Harrelson's character (with the exception of a scene depicting a moment of heated sex with his former flame). Although it is predictable and hardly new, Monix provides a reasonable direction for the team. However, it seems to be a strange artistic fit when everything else in this film is over-the-top unbelievable.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Semi-Pro.
Amazingly, there is a thread of truth in this movie. The ABA was a real league that existed from 1967 to 1976, and their teams were known for flashier plays and glitzier performances. While the Flint team in this movie is fictitious, you can find more details about the league in this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Basketball_Association