Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kent Alterman|
|Produced by||Jimmy Miller|
|Written by||Scot Armstrong|
|Music by||Theodore Shapiro|
|Edited by||Debra Neil-Fisher|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$43.9 million|
Semi-Pro is a 2008 American sports comedy film from New Line Cinema. The film was directed by Kent Alterman and stars Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, André Benjamin and Maura Tierney. The film was shot in Los Angeles near Dodger Stadium (in the gym of the Los Angeles City Fire Department Training Center), in Detroit, and in Flint, Michigan. Released in theaters on February 19, 2008 and released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on June 3, 2008, it was the last film from New Line Cinema before they were absorbed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
In 1976, Jackie Moon is a singer who used the profits from his one-hit wonder, "Love Me Sexy", to buy a basketball team in the American Basketball Association (ABA), the Flint Tropics, becoming the owner, head coach, starting power forward, and pre-game announcer. The ABA Commissioner announces a plan to merge the league with the National Basketball Association (NBA), but only four teams will move to the more established league. The Tropics, the worst team in the league, are in danger of dissolving. Jackie argues that the teams with the four best records should be merged and the Commissioner accepts.
Jackie trades the team's washing machine to the Kentucky Colonels for Ed Monix, a backup point guard who won an NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics, but did not play during the playoffs. The Commissioner reveals that in addition to finishing in the top four, the Tropics will also need at least 2,000 fans at every remaining home game. Jackie begins to stage extremely desperate stunts in order to boost attendance, like wrestling a bear named Dewey, as well as the increased intensity of Clarence Withers, the Tropics' best player. Monix takes over as offensive and defensive coordinator and starting point guard, leaving Jackie as the head coach. Monix trains the team rigorously with a play he calls the "Puke", as the players are to run it until they literally throw up.
From Monix's training, the Tropics go on a winning run, moving from last to fifth. Jackie gets a visit from the Commissioner. The NBA does not think that Flint has a large enough media market and will not allow the Tropics into the league even if they beat the first place San Antonio Spurs in the last game of the season. Jackie admits that he stole "Love Me Sexy" from a napkin his mother wrote on three weeks before she died. Realizing that all his assets are basically stolen, Jackie trades Withers to the Spurs so that he may realize his dream of playing in the NBA. Monix inspires the team to leave everything on the court, while they may not be able to continue the franchise after this season, they have come very far and still have a lot to prove.
Going into the Spurs game, which Jackie declares the "MegaBowl", the Tropics are in fifth place and with a win they would make it into fourth, even though they won't be allowed into the NBA. The Tropics fall behind quickly, and Jackie is knocked unconscious when fouled hard at the end of the first half. Withers decides he has seen enough and rejoins the Tropics in their locker room, destroying his chance at the NBA with the Spurs. An unconscious Jackie imagines that he is in heaven with his mother. He apologizes for stealing her song and she gives him a weapon in order to win. Starting the second half, the Tropics reveal their new weapon: the alley-oop. With the return of Withers, the alley-oop is very effective, but the referee initially calls the play a foul. After some persuasion by Jackie and Monix, the referee is convinced that it is a legitimate play. With seconds left, the have closed to within two points, 117-115, when the Spurs execute a defence against the Alley-Oop. Monix calls a time-out and tells them to run the "Puke", executing multiple razzle-dazzle passes ending with the ball in Jackie's hands under the net – but he gets fouled hard again with two seconds left, giving him 2 free throws. Shooting granny style, Jackie sinks the first basket. The second bounces off the rim but Monix tips it in right at the buzzer for two points to win, sparking a wild celebration in the arena and the streets of Flint.
The Spurs' coach offers Withers his position back, while the now-former ABA Commissioner offers Jackie a position on the staff of the NBA Assistant Commissioner, as a marketing director.
In addition, former American Basketball Association players, Artis Gilmore and George Gervin, appear in uncredited roles as customers in a restaurant, while the already extensive list of Saturday Night Live cast members includes Jerry Minor, in the uncredited role of DJ at the nightclub.
The 5-year-old, -foot-tall (2.3 m), 700-pound (320 kg) male grizzly bear named Rocky appeared in the film in a scene where Will Ferrell's character wrestles him to promote his basketball team. Stuntman and trainer Randy Miller doubled for Ferrell during the wrestling match with the bear. On April 22, 2008, seven weeks after the Semi-Pro entered wide release, the bear bit 39-year-old Stephan Miller (Randy Miller's cousin and fellow trainer) on the neck, killing him.
Semi-Pro received negative reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval score of 22% based on 161 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Semi-Pro is an intermittently funny, half-hearted attempt at sports satire, and one of Will Ferrell's weaker cinematic efforts."Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 47 out of 100, based on 29 reviews. Matt Zoeller Seitz of New York Times said, "Semi-Pro finds the sweet spot between sports melodrama and parody, and hammers it for 90 diverting minutes."
Peter Travers writing for Rolling Stone stated, "when the script, by Scott Armstrong, shoots air balls, Ferrell is a slam-dunk." Claudia Puig of USA Today said, "Although not exactly a slam dunk, Semi-Pro is definitely more than semi-funny." In his review for The Village Voice, Robert Wilonsky gave the film 2 stars of a possible 4 and wrote that director Kent Alterman, "valiantly tries to tweak the formula by adding a dash more sincerity and humanity to the froth but doesn't get too adventurous. But in the end, it's comedy comfort food, something powdered poured from a box."
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $15 million in 3,121 theaters in the United States and Canada, holding the number one position at the box office. Alicia Chang of the Associated Press described the opening as "lackluster" compared to Ferrell's previous sports spoofs Talladega Nights, which opened with $47 million, and Blades of Glory, which opened with $33 million. The basketball film went on to gross $33,479,698 domestically and $10,405,206 internationally, for a total of $43,884,904 worldwide.
2008 ESPY Awards
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on June 3, 2008. There is a theatrical R-Rated version DVD and a 2-Disc "Let's Get Sweaty" Unrated Edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Special features include unrated deleted scenes and more.
|Semi-Pro (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||February 26, 2008|
|Label||New Line Records|
The soundtrack for the film was released on February 26, 2008 and featured songs by LaBelle, WAR, Curtis Mayfield, Will Ferrell, among others. "Love Me Sexy" is sung by the fictional Jackie Moon (played by Will Ferrell).