Semi-Pro (2008) - 2-Disc Unrated Let's Get Sweaty Edition [Blu-Ray]
|Genre(s): Comedy / Sports|
|New Line || Unrated - 98 minutes - $39.98 || June 3, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-06-05|
Writer(s): Scot Armstrong
Cast: Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin, Maura Tierney, Will Arnett, David Koechner
Theatrical Release Date: February 29, 2008
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Comedian and “SNL” alum Will Ferrell continues his streak of sports comedies. Following in the footsteps of Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory, Ferrell takes on basketball this go around in Semi-Pro, a movie, based on critical reactions, is actually a little underrated. This is not to say Semi-Pro is some kind comedy gold, because it isn’t, but it did manage to get me to laugh a few times.
Jackie Moon (Ferrell) is the owner/head coach/star player of the Flint Tropics, a team member of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Moon is also a master promoter and the singer of a one-hit wonder called “Love Me Sexy”. At a meeting with the other owners of ABA teams, he finds out that the ABA has signed a merger that would send the top four teams of the soon-to-be-defunct league into the NBA.
To bolster his team, Moon trades a washing machine for former NBA champion Monix (Harrelson). With Monix on the team, and taking over the offense and defense of the team, the Flint Tropics try to make a run for the top four in the league and a final game against the league’s best team, the San Antonio Spurs. But why would Monix agree to such a trade? Well, he has some history in Flint, including ex-flame Lynn (Tierney). There’s also a character subplot with the Tropic’s best player, Clarence Black (Benjamin), who dreams of one day playing the NBA and who also has his own opinions on Monix.
With a new found sense of enthusiasm and vigor, the Flint Tropics engage in unusual tactics to get the upper hand on their opponents with new scoring gimmicks and the use of eyeliner.
Semi-Pro is much like all of Ferrell’s star vehicle projects. Individual scenes can be very funny but when you look at the big picture, it’s really not that good. Putting Ferrell aside for the moment, I was most impressed with the supporting cast the filmmakers’ placed around Ferrell: Andre Benjamin, Will Arnett, Andy Richter, David Koechner plus a humorous cameo from Tim Meadows. A movie is only as good as its supporting actors and on that front, Semi-Pro succeeds.
Considering two of my favorite comedians are in this film -- Richter and Arnett -- is another reason why I liked it. Richter, the longtime sidekick on Conan O’Brien, and Arnett on the cult fave “Arrested Development”, provides most of the great laughs in the film with Arnett making use his skills of improv.
Where the film fails, however, is with the story itself and one where there are three characters each with their own motivation (Monix getting the girl; Moon doing... something; and Clarence getting to the pros). Now, I like the fact that a co-star is the one with the tried and true love interest storyline, but all of it just felt empty. I know this is a comedy where gags come first, story a distant second, but with no solid cornerstone, the comedy as little to stand on.
Even though Semi-Pro is yet another venue for Will Ferrell to scream and shout like a lunatic as he’s done so many times in his other big screen ventures, not to mention having a story with no heart or soul, I did actually laugh a few times. Considering I didn’t understand the appeal of Talladega Nights and Ferrell movies in general weren’t THAT amusing, I actually could tolerate him here. Like I said, I laughed more times than I expected to so I can’t complain too much, it’s just a shame the story couldn’t have been better.
This Blu-ray disc contains all the features available on the Unrated Edition on SD. This also is two discs with the first one containing both the unrated and theatrical versions (98:22 vs. 91:19). Most features are presented in either 1080p or 1080i high-def.
Deleted/Alternate Scenes and Improv (15:14; HD) – Three deleted scenes and three more improv scenes have been included. One of the scenes finds Monix getting heckled by an opposition team fan whereupon he exacts his annoyance at the free throw lane. The improv scenes are funny, especially in Arnett’s case, but they do go on for a long time.
A Short History of the ABA (6:50; HD) – This featurette was actually interesting as someone with little knowledge on basketball and none on the American Basketball Association. It goes through the impact it had on former players and the NBA.
Re-Creating the ABA (12:46; HD) shows how the filmmakers took the sets and designs back to the 1970s and filming at the right locations to make it look right for the period.
“Love Me Sexy”: The Story Behind the One Hit Wonder (5:24; HD) – This one shows the process of coming up with the song which was brought about by Ferrell during a script read through.
Bill Walton Visits the Set (2:40; HD) – Kind of self explanatory... Walton visits the set, and gets makeup, a wig and facial hair on him to make him look as he did back in the day. One interesting side note: Walton tells a story about a league legend when one ABA player went after a fan for taunting. Well, what would you know that if it wasn’t director Kent Alterman who was that kid.
Four Days in Flint (5:38; HD) – Another self explanatory featurette where the filmmakers film a few scenes in Flint, Michigan.
The Man Behind Semi-Pro (23:52; HD) – Segment that looks at first-time director Kent Alterman and the process of getting Semi-Pro to the big screen from the script to casting.
The disc also has the music video (1:58; HD) for “Love Me Sexy”; Flint Tropics Hot Talk with Dick Pepperfield (2:38; SD) has the faux sports commentator interviewing Jackie Moon; and some trailers including the red band trailer.
Finally, there is a Super Agility Trainer which is a Blu-ray Exclusive. It’s just a stupid game that gets old within a minute.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Semi-Pro is presented in widescreen with a 1.85 OAR. The movie is on a 50GB disc with a 1080p/VC-1 transfer. The picture looks pretty and with the Flint Tropics bright uniforms and overall colors, it comes across the HD screen quite nicely. That said, this is not demo material but if the price is right (given it is only $6 more than the SD 2-disc set), it might be worth the upgrade.
The most surprising thing on this Blu-ray disc is that New Line has given it an extremely powerful 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Why? Well, I guess since the whole point of this new format is the amount of space that these discs can hold, and my oh my did they ever make use of it. In fact, I’d argue it was a little too much, but it still sounds great and crank it up enough, and the entire neighborhood can hear things like: “Suck my c**k! I’ll kill your family!” Neighborhood get-togethers will never be the same.
Semi-Pro isn’t that good of a movie but it did make me laugh several times. Perhaps my expectations of comedies aren’t as high as in other genres, but I still found this semi-enjoyable (no pun intended). As far as this Blu-ray disc goes, it’s alright although I have a hard time arguing that it’s worth the extra cash. The video looks great yet it’s not something would use to show off a home theater. The audio is loud but arguably it’s too much for a movie like this. The features are fine and most presented in HD, however the loan exclusive is lame.
I guess if you’re a video/audiophile you might want this in your collection, otherwise if you can find the SD counterpart cheap, you’ll be OK with that version.
Note: Images do not represent the true picture quality of the film. Also, picture and audio ratings are on a high-def scale.