Empire magazine has a theory about Will Ferrell films; the bigger the wig, the bigger the laughs. Anchorman – big wig, funny film. Talladega Nights – smaller wig, not as funny. So Semi-Pro should, by all rights, be hilarious, given the size of the afro on Ferrell’s character, the pop-star-cum-basketball-player Jackie Moon.
Sadly, it doesn’t pan out that way. A large part of the problem is that if you’ve seen one of Will Ferrell’s “MAN comedies” then you’ve seen them all – Ferrell plays an egotistical loudmouth who doesn’t really understand the field he’s in, goes on a voyage of discovery, and it all comes good in the end. Throw in some swearing, some physical comedy, and boom – movie.
But that’s it – movie. Not ‘great movie’, just ‘movie’. For this kind of film to reach the next level it has to offer something different, and sadly Semi-Pro doesn’t bring anything new to the formula. Its secondary characters, so often responsible for much of the humour in Ferrell’s comedies, don’t get enough time to make an impact on the movie. This leaves you with the Jackie Moon show, and while he isn’t unlikeable, there isn’t all that much to get hold of.
Then there are the laughs. While there are solid chuckles throughout this film there’s a disappointing lack of the laugh-out-loud moments Ferrell’s known for. The lack of a supporting cast means that the sharp dialogue you’re used to is largely absent (although one of the movie’s high-points is Moon telling a priest to S his C). And, yes, sadly, the trailers do contain all the best jokes anyway.
The plot itself doesn’t do the film any favours – it’s a thin concept without much padding to it – and there isn’t really all that much going on, other than the central basketball storyline.
Saying all that, it’s not a bad film. There are some good exchanges, notably between the basketball commentators, and the 90-minute run time doesn’t drag. Also, you can’t really hate a film that offers solid, if unspectacular laughs throughout. All in all though, Semi-Pro is just what it says on the tin – not up for the big time, but solid nonetheless.