"Semi-Pro (Two-Disc Unrated "Let's Get Sweaty" Edition)" DVD Review
June 02, 2008 by Zach Demeter
It’s really just all more of the same with Semi-Pro; Ferrell continuing his usual goofy guy shtick and the rest of the cast following suit. It’s not original in the least and all of the critical bashing and general poor reception of the film are all warranted, as the film does absolutely nothing new with Ferrell and his comedy style and instead just seems to rinse and repeat from past movies to create one about basketball. Characters also seem plucked from previous films, with Jackie Moon acting the same as Ron Burgundy or Ricky Bobby. It’s nothing new and that’s really the key point I want to make. It’s nothing new. And that’s why I still enjoyed it.
When the ABA is set to merge with the NBA, Jackie Moon couldn’t be more stoked. His fledgling franchise was a money pit and with this merger his team would finally get to the big league. What Jackie didn’t know at first was that not all ABA teams were going—only the top four. Once Jackie discovers this, he begins trading washing machines for new players to help the Flint Michigan Tropics claw their way to the number four spot. Unfortunately for Jackie, the team had to overcome one big obstacle in order to get to where they wanted to be: the team had to stop sucking.
So why did I enjoy the film? Well I’m an open fan of Will Ferrell and while he never seems to switch up his characters very often (when he does, Stranger Than Fiction happens…which isn’t really a bad thing), it’s those foul-mouth quirky characters he’s known for anyway. You can blame Semi-Pro all you want for being another unoriginal Ferrell feature, but when that’s what Ferrell has made his career on, it’s hard to fault him for continuing what makes himself and others laugh.
The biggest disappointment that Semi-Pro gave me was the repetition of jokes from some of Ferrell’s other works. You could point out correlations between Anchorman and the “Crazy Fists” bit with the bear fight seemed strangely familiar to me; I’ve seen so many of Ferrell’s skits and characters, however, that trying to tie that one down has proven incredibly difficult. Still, the fact remains that I watched Semi-Pro for Ferrell and I can’t be disappointed when he does the same thing that’s made me laugh before. It’d be unfair to say that I wanted to see the film for Woody Harrelson or Andre Benjamin, because then it’d just be a big fat lie. However played out and annoying people may find Farrell, it remains that he’s still a decent box office cash cow, even if some of his career choices have been questionable (Kicking & Screaming).
With the R-rating for this film, Ferrell’s character was able to belt out a few more F-bombs, but it was those around him that took more interest in dropping them, as Ferrell honestly wasn’t all that frequent with the cursing. In fact, some of the biggest laughs in the film didn’t even come from Farrell but instead from Will Arnett, who played a foul mouthed announcer by the name of Lou Redwood. Between Arnett and Andrew Daly (who played the other announcer, Dick Pepperfield), the two generated most of the laughter with their off-color comments and reactions to certain situations in the movie.
In other elements in the films hundred minute runtime, Semi-Pro managed to focus on Woody Harrelson’s role as Monix, a washed up basketball player attempting to recapture his days as a top player. Harrelson eventually inspires fellow teammate Clarence “Coffee” Black (André Benjamin) and the two actually take the majority of the films more emotional and dramatic moments. In that sense I guess the film could be seen as uneven with the plot elements, as it switches between players attempting to rekindle their past, a player attempting to be the best and…Jackie Moon, who just makes a horses ass out of himself. Actually kind of makes you wonder what the film would have been like without Ferrell as the lead.
In any case while Semi-Pro may have its shortcomings, but if you’re a fan of Anchorman, Talladega Nights or Blades of Glory, then you’ll know what to expect. The film doesn’t have quite as many funny lines as the rest of Farrell’s other works, although the “Jive Turkey” sequence is quite memorable, but it’s still worth a viewing if you’re a fan of Farrell. Recommended if you can find the humor in a poofy haired basketball coach, but a Rental if you’re not sure; the film’s not loaded with laughter, but it never feels like it’s dragging on and it remains an entertaining fair throughout.
Like a lot of Ferrell’s films, there are a myriad of versions to choose from. A single disc R-rated DVD edition, two-disc unrated DVD "Let's Get Sweaty" edition and a Blu-ray "Let's Get Sweaty" edition are available and for this review I’ll be tackling the two-disc DVD edition. Semi-Pro (Two-Disc Unrated "Let's Get Sweaty" Edition) arrives in a standard dual-disc DVD case with a slipcover touting the unrated aspect and extras elements (and as with New Line titles, the rear cover art on the slip is different from what’s underneath—always a nice touch). Inside the case is a trio of inserts, including advertisements for other New Line titles as well as the Semi-Pro soundtrack, coupons for Old Spice products and an activation code for the Semi-Pro digital copy.
Moving onto the discs themselves, Semi-Pro’s first disc is home to the two versions of the film. Why anyone would purchase the single disc edition when both are included here, I’m not sure, but once you pop the disc in and hit “Play Movie” on the sets nicely animated menus, we’re given the option to choose which film edition we want to watch. The unrated version packs on an additional seven minutes that aren’t particularly funny, but they gel so well with the rest of the film it’s kind of curious as to why they were left out—plus there’s topless women involved, so why that wouldn’t have been left in the final cut to have more sex appeal, I don’t know.
The transfers for both film cuts are up there on terms of quality, with plenty of clean colors and frames coming through, especially during some of the nicely lit basketball stadium scenes with Jackie’s various musical routines and the like. It’s a very nice visual presentation that I doubt few will find fault with and the accompanying Dolby Digital 5.1 EX surround track is particularly nice, throwing around plenty of crowd noise, music and other sound effects around the room. Optional English 2.0 and English and Spanish subtitles are included as well.
Moving onto the second disc we find the trove of extras. First up is a set of four deleted/alternate scenes as well as three improv takes, tallying 15:15. These extras fall under the “From the Cutting Room Floor” header and are all fairly humorous in their own right, with the improv sequences housing the funniest elements, especially when Arnett and Daly are the focus. As expected, there are plenty of laughs to be had during those sequences.
Up next is the “Behind the Scenes” area which is packed with short-to-lengthy extras that focus on all elements of the film. A Short History of the ABA (6:50) talks about the history of the long-dissolved ABA, while Re-Creating the ABA (12:45) shows how they re-created all of the elements of the basketball leagues, ranging from original jerseys to the names of some of the original teams. Bill Walton Visits the Set (2:40) is another great extra in the same vein, with Walton reminiscing about the ABA and some of the stories he heard while on the road with his team.
"Love me Sexy" - The Story Behind the One Hit Wonder (5:24) talks about making the saucy Jackie Moon song used in the film, while Four Days in Flint (5:38) details the specific shooting done in Flint, Michigan for the film. Finally we have The Man Behind Semi-Pro (24:00), which is our basic making-of here, with plenty of cast and crew interviews and Ferrell switching between acting like a pompous ass and providing some decent input into the whole making of the film.
The final section of the special features disc is the “Promotions” area which houses "Love Me Sexy" Music Video (1:58) and a pair of Flint Tropics Hot Talk with Dick Pepperfield videos, "Ball Girls" (1:15) and "Pancakes and Camels" (1:25). These two Dick Pepperfield videos are made to look like they were recorded on VHS tapes that have long since passed their prime, with garbled audio, horrendous video (check out that contrast blowout!) and just an overall crappy quality. The videos themselves are a humorous mix to watch and seeing as they’re the only 4:3 material presented here (the rest of the extras on the set are all in anamorphic 16x9 widescreen), they’re also the most unique on the set. Too bad some of the Jackie Moon Old Spice commercials couldn’t have been included, as quite a few of the ones I saw floating around online were quite humorous. A trio of trailers (Teaser, Trailer and Red Band) are included as well.
As expected the extras on the DVD are hilarious and addictive to watch, so if you happened to enjoy the film, then you’ll be happy to get a few more miles out of the DVD before you slide it next to your other Ferrell films. If you enjoyed the film or are a fan of Ferrell then this film comes Highly Recommended, otherwise just Rent It. Ferrell is an acquired taste and can easily become annoying, so walk softly or be prepared to either laugh righteously or stare blankly at the screen and wonder how people can find him funny.
(It’s the hair.)
Semi-Pro arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on June 3rd.