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Semi-Pro

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, Maura Tierney, Will Arnett, Ryan Marques, and David Koechner. The movie 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. It was released in theaters on February 29, 2008, and was released on DVD and Blu-Ray June 3rd, 2008.

Plot

Set in 1976, Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell) is a singer who has used the profits from his one hit single "Love Me Sexy", to buy a basketball team in the American Basketball Association, the Flint Tropics, becoming the owner, head coach, and starting power forward. The ABA Commissioner (David Koechner) announces plans to merge with the National Basketball Association, but only four teams will move to the more established league. The Tropics, the worst team in the league, are in danger of dissolving. In response, Jackie argues that the teams with the four best records overall should be merged into the NBA. The Commissioner reluctantly accepts Jackie's offer.

Now that the Tropics have somewhat of a shot to be an NBA franchise, Jackie trades away the team's washing machine to the Kentucky Colonels for Ed Monix, (Harrelson) former backup point guard for the NBA Champion Boston Celtics. Soon, the commissioner reveals that as well as having a top four record, the Tropics will also have to have a stable fan base and have an attendance of at least 2,000 fans every remaining game of the season.

Jackie begins to promote wildly by such gimmicks as watching him wrestle a bear after the game. The Tropics begin playing better with Monix, as well as the increased intensity of Clarence "Coffee Black" Johnson (André Benjamin). Monix soon takes over as Offensive and Defensive Coordinators, as well as starting point guard, leaving Jackie merely the title of Head Coach. Monix trains the team rigorously with a play he calls the "puke", as the players are to run it, without a ball, until they vomit. After a few hours, every player is in the bathroom vomiting, except for Jackie. It is revealed that Jackie has never vomited in his life, so Monix punches him in the jejunum, effectively making him gag and throw up. From Monix's training, the Tropics go on a winning run, moving them up from last to fifth. Suddenly Jackie, now extremely excited for the possibilities in his grasp, gets a visit from the commissioner. Here, the commissioner tells the team that the NBA does not think that Flint has a large enough media market and won't allow the Tropics into the league no matter what their record is. Distressed, Jackie admits that he stole "Love Me Sexy" from a napkin which his mother wrote on three weeks before she died. Now realizing that all his assets, including the team, are basically stolen, Jackie trades Coffee Black to the first place San Antonio Spurs so that he may realize his talent in the NBA. Monix inspires the team to leave everything on the court as, 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, they are in fifth place and with a win they would make it into fourth, although they have no chance in making it into the NBA. The game begins and the Tropics fall behind quickly. In the closing seconds of the first half, Jackie gets fouled hard while going up for a shot, and is injured. Coffee Black decides he has seen enough, and rushes in to the Tropic's locker rooms with the rest of the team, which angers the Spurs' players and coach.

During halftime, an unconscious Jackie imagines that he is in heaven with his mother (Patti LaBelle). He apologizes for stealing her song and then she gives him a weapon in order to win the final game of the franchise. Awaking in the locker room, he tells the team what they are going to do to win. Back on the court, the Tropics reveal their new weapon: the Alley-Oop. With the return of Coffee Black, it is very effective and Coffee Black leads the charge back. At first, the referee doesn't even know how to call the play, but is soon convinced that it's a legitimate score. The Tropics take advantage of this new strategy and begin coming back very dramatically. Then, the Spurs start defending against the alley oop. Monix then takes charge and calls for them to run "the puke" with 12 seconds left and down by two points. The play gives Jackie the ball, but he gets fouled hard again. Shooting "granny style", Moon sinks the first basket. The second rebounds off and Monix tips it in for two points and the Tropics win by one. The coach of the Spurs offers Coffee Black a position on the team, telling him "we could make good use of your alley-oop." Thus, Coffee Black is able to realize his dream of playing in the NBA. Towards the end of the movie, the now-former ABA commissioner offers Jackie a position on the staff of the NBA assistant commissioner, as a marketing director. Just as Jackie is about to accept, the commissioner is mauled by the bear Jackie wrestled with earlier, which leads Jackie to yell out the phrase "Everybody panic! It's just like the Titanic, but it's full of bears!" as the credits start to roll.

Rating

Semi-Pro received an R rating from the MPAA for language and some sexual content.

Cast

Rocky the Bear

The 5-year-old, 7 1/2 foot tall, 700 pound 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, the bear bit 39-year-old Stephan Miller (Randy Miller's cousin and fellow trainer) on the neck, killing him.

Marketing

  • A number shown in the teaser trailer 1-800-TROPICS when called plays a recorded message of Jackie Moon talking about season ticket packages for the 1976 season.
  • Several ads for Anheuser-Busch have been filmed featuring Will Ferrell in character as Jackie Moon that were aired during Super Bowl XLII.
  • A music video has been released with Jackie Moon singing his 'hit' "Love Me Sexy"
  • 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 have worn a basketball uniform similar to the one worn by Ferrell in the film.
  • Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread featuring Ferrell with Heidi Klum.

Reception

Critical reception

The film received negative to mixed reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 20% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 137 reviews (as of 23 June 2008). Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 46 out of 100, based on 26 reviews.

In his review for The Village Voice, Robert Wilonsky 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".

Box office performance

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $15 million in 3,121 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #1 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.

Awards

2008 ESPY Awards

  1. Best Sports Movie ESPY Award

DVD Release

The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray Discs June 3rd 2008. There is a theatrical R-Rated version DVD and Blu-Ray Disc or a 2-Disc "Let's Get Sweaty" Unrated Edition DVD and Blu-Ray Disc. Special Features include unrated deleted scenes and more.

Soundtrack

See also

References

External links

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