What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that lots of kids are huge fans of Will Ferrell comedies, particularly the goofy sports ones. This one has more strong language than some of Ferrell's other movies (nearly every scene includes some creative use of "f--k" and its many derivatives), as well as the requisite sex jokes (including one sex scene between a mostly dressed couple) and outrageous behavior (fighting a bear to promote a basketball game). There's also an aggressive off-screen promotion in which Ferrell's character pitches Old Spice and Bud Light in commercials.
What's the story?
In SEMI-PRO, Will Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, a '70s one-hit wonder who used his money to buy the Tropics, an American Basketball Association team in his hometown of Flint, Mich. Not only is he the team's owner -- he's also the coach, promoter, and a starting player. When the ABA commissioner (David Koechner) announces that only the top four teams will merge into the more successful National Basketball Association, Moon trades his team's washing machine for aging former NBA player Monix (Woody Harrelson). The two then attempt to lead the bottom-barrel team -- led by standout player "Coffee" Black (Andre Benjamin) -- to shot at glory.
Is it any good?
On the laugh-meter scale, Semi-Pro ranks much lower than Ferrell's other comedies, even those that take multiple viewings to really appreciate, like Anchorman. There are few printable catchphrases or jokes (though there are several creative R-rated curses), and the plot follows a basic sports-drama arc -- underdog team must whip into shape before the big game -- that isn't exactly reinvented by the few classic Ferrell-and-friend gags along the way (like Moon's attempt to lure fans by wrestling a grizzly bear).
Still, there's no denying that audiences will laugh at several of the scenes, especially shots of Ferrell in his '70s 'fro and synthetic-fiber outfits. And it's always a highlight to see his many talented comedian friends -- Andy Richter, Will Arnett, and Tim Meadows, to name a few -- in supporting roles. Bottom line? Semi-Pro is sweet from the sports-flick perspective but lacks the huge-laugh staying power needed to be one of Ferrell's best comedies.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about whether this comedy follows the Hollywood formula for sports movies. Despite the raunchy jokes, isn't this more or less a typical underdog story? What is Monix's message about professional sports? To him, is it more important to be an NBA hotshot or to love playing basketball? Why do you think this movie got an R rating, while many of Ferrell's other sports comedies have been PG-13? Is it just the strong language? Does swearing make a movie funnier, or is it distracting?