Over the course of a string of successful comedies that includes TALLADEGA NIGHTS and BLADES OF GLORY, Will Ferrel has perfected a type of swaggering, machismo-fueled character, heavy on ego and severely lacking in intellect of any kind. Typically set in the world of sports, these movies have allowed Ferrel free range to both mock and celebrate idiot masculinity. SEMI-PRO, Ferrell's homage to the wild, afro-picked splendor of the short-lived American Basketball Association, continues this trend, and finds him embodying yet another larger-than-life hunk a burnin' love in the form of Jackie Moon, R&B singer-turned-owner/player/coach of the hapless Flint, Michigan Tropics.
As sports movies go, SEMI-PRO's story should be more than familiar to even the most casual fan. The Tropics are a lackluster franchise that place good times and flash over winning. However, when the league announces that they will be merging with the NBA and only taking the top four teams along, the Tropics buckle down and give true ballin' a shot. SEMI-PRO follows the comedic formula of other Ferrell movies and contains an equal amount of satire (tame-but-effective '70s goofs), slapstick (on-court brawls, zany stunts), and surreal non-sequiturs (an improvised poker game provides one of the film's most deliciously bizarre scenes), but it's not exactly interchangeable with Ferrell's other movies. Though the actor cuts loose as Jackie Moon, the film is decidedly an ensemble picture, with Woody Harrelson providing the movie's true protagonist, in washed up former NBA player Monix, and Andre Benjamin offering a charming turn as flashy NBA wannabe Clarence "Coffee" Black. Perhaps most interestingly, however, is SEMI-PRO's surprising attention to detail, though the Flint Tropics are a fictional team, the real ABA was every bit as wacky, unhinged, and, yes, entertaining as SEMI-PRO itself.