Semi-Pro is a 2008 American sports comedy film. The film was directed by Kent Alterman in his directorial debut, written by Scot Armstrong, and produced by Jimmy Miller. It stars Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, André Benjamin and Maura Tierney, set during the final season of the American Basketball Association and telling the story of a fictional ABA team desperate to survive the league's merger with the NBA. 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,[2] it was the last film from New Line Cinema before they were absorbed by Warner Bros. Pictures. As of 2024, it is the only film directed by Kent Alterman. The film received generally negative reviews, with critics criticizing the script, though Ferrell's performance received praise.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byKent Alterman
Written byScot Armstrong
Produced byJimmy Miller
StarringWill Ferrell
Woody Harrelson
André Benjamin
Maura Tierney
Will Arnett
David Koechner
CinematographyShane Hurlbut
Edited byDebra Neil-Fisher
Peter Teschner
Music byTheodore Shapiro
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release dates
  • February 19, 2008 (2008-02-19) (Westwood premiere)
  • February 29, 2008 (2008-02-29)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$55 million[1]
Box office$43.9 million[2]

Plot edit

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. At a team owner's meeting, 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, thinking fast, 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, including wrestling a live bear. Monix takes over as starting point guard and becomes an assistant coach of the team. 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 as well as the increased intensity of Clarence Withers, the Tropics' best player, 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 reassembles and 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 will not 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, they 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 in the rebound 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. The now-former ABA Commissioner offers Jackie a position on the staff of the NBA as a marketing director due his success with the Tropics.

Cast edit

  • Will Ferrell as Jackie Moon – The owner/player/coach of the failing Flint Tropics, famous for the aging disco hit "Love Me Sexy".
  • Woody Harrelson as Ed Monix – The aging point guard, and former NBA Champion, although he sat through every playoff game for the Boston Celtics.
  • André Benjamin as Clarence Withers aka Coffee Black – dreams to play in the NBA, although all he ever does is gossip about going.
  • Maura Tierney as Lynn – Ed Monix's love interest.
  • Andy Daly as Dick Pepperfield – Play-By-Play Announcer for the Tropics.
  • Will Arnett as Lou Redwood – Color Commentator for the Tropics. While calling the game, he smokes cigarettes and drinks Scotch.
  • Andy Richter as Bobby Dee – General Manager for the Tropics.
  • David Koechner as Alan Ault – the ABA Commissioner who holds Jackie in low-esteem.
  • Rob Corddry as Kyle – Lynn's boyfriend.
  • Matt Walsh as Father Pat the Ref – Although a priest, he is the referee for almost all ABA games, not just the Tropics home contests.
  • Jackie Earle Haley as Dukes – An unemployed hippie and number-one fan who makes a full-court shot to win $10,000 the Tropics don't have.
  • DeRay Davis as Bee Bee Ellis – Guard/Forward and also the sixth man for the Tropics.
  • Josh Braaten as Twiggy Munson – Small Forward for the Tropics.
  • Jay Phillips as Scootsie Double Day – Point Guard for the Tropics.
  • Peter Cornell as Vakidis – Soviet/Lithuanian center for the Tropics. Does not understand English.

Cameos edit

  • Patti LaBelle as Mrs. Moon – Appeared in Jackie's dream to invent the alley-oop.
  • Tim Meadows as Cornelius Banks – A friend of Jackie's who thinks he plays for the Tropics.
  • Jason Sudeikis as Nacho Fan – One of the few Tropics' season ticket holders.
  • Kristen Wiig as Bear Handler
  • Ellia English as Ms. Quincy – Clarence's mother, who proudly attends every Tropic game to support her son as well as the team.
  • Ed Helms as Turtleneck – a reporter that Jackie calls on by his clothing
  • Brian Huskey as White Pants – a reporter that Jackie calls on by his clothing
  • Charlyne Yi as Wheelchair Jody
  • Paul Rust as Wheelchair Boy
  • Steve Bannos as Cop at Jail

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.[3]

Dewie the Bear edit

The 5-year-old, 7+12-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 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.[4]

Marketing edit

  • A number is shown in the teaser trailer 1-800-TROPICS, when called played a recorded message of Jackie Moon talking about season ticket packages for the 1976 season.
  • Several ads for Anheuser-Busch were filmed featuring Will Ferrell in character as Jackie Moon that were aired during Super Bowl XLII.[5] Some of the ads touted humorous promotional items with offers expiring in November 1977.[6]
  • A music video was released with Jackie Moon singing his 'hit' "Love Me Sexy".
  • Ferrell appeared in character as Jackie Moon in TV spots for Old Spice deodorant.
  • A prescreening at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas two weeks prior to the box office debut featured an appearance by Will Ferrell and director Kent Alterman. In order to obtain entrance to the theater, all viewers had to wear a basketball uniform similar to the one worn by Ferrell in the film.
  • An official Jackie Moon Semi-Pro costume was released in summer 2008 for Halloween.[7]
  • A Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue spread featured Ferrell with Heidi Klum.[8]

Reception edit

Critical reception edit

Semi-Pro received generally 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."[9] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 47 out of 100, based on 29 reviews.[10] 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."[11]

Peter Travers writing for Rolling Stone stated, "when the script, by Scott Armstrong, shoots air balls, Ferrell is a slam-dunk."[12] Claudia Puig of USA Today said, "Although not exactly a slam dunk, Semi-Pro is definitely more than semi-funny."[13] 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."[14]

Box office performance edit

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.[15] 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.[2]

Awards edit

2008 ESPY Awards

  1. Best Sports Movie ESPY Award

2008 Teen Choice Awards

  1. Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie - Comedy (Nominated)

Home media edit

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.

Soundtrack edit

Semi-Pro (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedFebruary 26, 2008
LabelNew 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).

  1. "Love Me Sexy" – Will Ferrell
  2. "Get Da Funk Out Ma' Face" – Brothers Johnson
  3. "Lady Marmalade" – LaBelle
  4. "The World Is a Ghetto" – WAR
  5. "Tell Me Something Good" – Ronnie Laws
  6. "Mr. Big Stuff" – Jean Knight
  7. "Give Me Just a Little More Time" – Chairmen of the Board
  8. "Why Can't We Be Friends" – WAR
  9. "Walking in Rhythm" – The Blackbyrds
  10. "Dance to the Music" – Sly & The Family Stone
  11. "Love Rollercoaster" – Ohio Players
  12. "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" – Sly & The Family Stone
  13. "Move On Up" – Curtis Mayfield
  14. "Shining Star" – Elijah Kelley

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Semi-Pro (2008) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  2. ^ a b c "Semi-Pro (2008)". Box Office Mojo. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2013-07-17.
  3. ^ Evans, Bradford (18 July 2013). "Which Movie Has the Most 'SNL' Cast Members In It?". Vulture. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Grizzly bear kills man at Southern California training site". USA Today. April 23, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  5. ^ Howard, Theresa (2008-01-29). "Anheuser-Busch brews up batch of Bowl ads". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-07-17.
  6. ^ "Will Ferrell/Jackie Moon Old Spice Semi-Pro Commercials". TV Crunch. February 11, 2008. Archived from the original on December 27, 2008. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
  7. ^ "Semi-Pro Costume". Retrieved 2013-07-17.
  8. ^ " Will Ferrell & Heidi Klum". Sports Illustrated. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-02-14.
  9. ^ "Semi-Pro". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  10. ^ "Semi-Pro (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  11. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller (29 February 2008). "Semi-Pro - Movies - Review". The New York Times – via
  12. ^ "Semi-Pro". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Will Ferrell scores points for comedy in 'Semi-Pro' -".
  14. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (February 26, 2008). "Semi-Pro: Only Half Bad". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  15. ^ "Semi-Pro (2008) – Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-03-01.

External links edit