It’s a shame Will Ferrell did Semi-Pro after three other sports films. This ABA comedy suffered due to an audience tired of his antics, and especially his antics in a sports movie. Taken on its own, it’s easily one of the best Ferrell comedies to date and especially relevant for those who remember the ABA.
Semi-Pro is similar in numerous ways to two other sports comedies: Slap Shot and Major League. All of them are about underdogs, they each have an older player with woman troubles, and a general band of no-name players playing in front of non-existent crowds. There’s no question that originality is at a premium here as are some of the set ups.
However, little of that matters if the content is funny, and this one is full of laughs. The R-rating spurs on some raunchy one-liners that after the PG-13 fare of other Ferrell comedies are a refreshing change of pace. Woody Harrelson takes the role of the level- headed veteran and isn’t given much to do, and tends to drag the movie down in terms of pacing.
Oddly enough, that’s the same problem with the above-mentioned comedies as well. Each try to insert a clichéd romance that’s supposed to taken seriously. It’s tedious, boring, and completely unnecessary. These aren’t characters you’re going to care for; you’re here to laugh at them.
Of course, they do make you laugh. Some of the on-court antics may not have much of a bearing on the thin plot, but it’s hard to think about story when Ferrell is flinging expletives at Matt Walsh, a hippie is arguing about his giant check, or the entire team is clenching their faces in pain after a mascara stunt gone awry. Andrew Daly and Will Arnett also get into the action as the commentators with a few of the film’s best lines.
For a quick and breezy comedy, it’s hard to fault Semi-Pro. The over-the-top, ridiculous antics are just as effective here as they were in Talladega Nights, and sometimes even more so. Fans of the sport, especially those of the ABA, have a lot to be happy about.
Loaded with warm tones and dazzling color, Semi-Pro looks superb on Blu-ray. Black levels are rich and bold with maybe a small hint of black crush. Contrast runs somewhat hot, a norm for countless modern films. Still, detail and sharpness are excellent all around, and this VC-1 encode avoids compression errors even during fast action or crowded scenes. For better or worse, Ferrell’s hairy legs come through clearly in hi-def.
New Line goes all out in the audio department with DTS-HD 7.1 mix for a film that doesn’t really need it. Yes, the squeak of sneakers on the hardwood is impressive, giving off a nice echo effect. And yes, the crowd does nicely fill in the rear speakers when an audience finally forms inside the arena. Since most of the film is dialogue driven (and comes through crisp and clear), it’s never really used anyway, so why go all out for a comedy?
Extras are all contained on disc 2 of this set, and are mostly straightforward. Without a commentary, there’s only minor featurettes to go on. The longest is The Man Behind Semi-Pro, a basic making-of feature that runs just shy of 23 minutes. A Short History of the ABA is exactly what it says it is, as is Re-Creating the ABA. Love Me Sexy delves into the movie’s main theme sung by Will Ferrell (of which a video is included as well on the disc), and a brief featurette shows Bill Walton visiting the set. Four Days in Flint quickly discusses shooting in the city for 5:38.
Deleted scenes include an alternate ending that probably should have stayed with the film, a rarity amongst alternate finales. Three segments of improv contain some funny moments as do the alternate takes of Flint Tropics Hot Talk. Finally, you can challenge yourself to the Super Agility Trainer which is an epic Blu-ray game of… Pong.