The level of enjoyment you attain from Semi-Pro will depend on your reaction to the next mental image: Will Ferrell... with an afro. If you laughed at the image, hey, don't be ashamed. Welcome to the club. If you didn't, well, the new Lars Von Trier film is showing in Screen 6...
It really is that simple. If you're a fan of Mr F, you will laugh and walk away armed with almost as many quotable lines as you got from Anchorman. If you're not, this isn't going to be the film that changes your opinion. I'm in the former camp. I laughed a lot. And not just at the afro although the humour doesn't necessarily get more sophisticated than that.
Interestingly, the subject is sort of based on a true story. In the early 1970s, America was home to TWO basketball leagues: the all-powerful money-producing NBA and its poorer cousin, the ABA. The ABA brought something to the court — showmanship, for example, and the three-pointer — but, as befits a country where anything with personality is bought up so it can be replaced by yet another identical franchise, the ABA had to go. When that happened, the NBA absorbed the four biggest ABA teams. Semi-Pro is set in that final season when the fictional Flint Tropics try to secure their spot in the new combined league.
Lead by Jackie Moon (Ferrell), the Tropics are one or two steps below underdog, the sort of squad that aspires to being called rag-tag, or would if they had any ambition. Moon is a Flint hero, a recording artist who used the profits of his single smash hit Love Me Sexy — a spot-on 70s parody — to buy the team. He's now owner, coach, power forward and pre-match entertainer, and he's refusing to give up on his (limited ability) team and the (small number of) fans. They might have left it late for a top four finish, but they're going to give it a go.
Sound like every sports film you've ever seen then? Yeah, it is, pretty much. But while the plot may be a straightforward retread of the 'let's win one for the Gipper' formula, the execution allows Ferrell and co. to raise several laughs. And that goes at least double for Will Arnett and Andrew Daly as the local commentary team. It's not big, it's not clever and it's definitely not sophisticated, but it is frequently very funny.