“Semi‑Pro”, directed by Kent Alterman, is yet another slapstick comedy starring Will Ferrell.
Set in 1976, Jackie Moon (Ferrell) is a singer who uses the profits from his one hit single “Love Me Sexy” to become a sports impresario and purchase a team in the American Basketball Association (ABA), the Flint, Michigan Tropics. The ABA announces plans to merge with the National Basketball Association (NBA), the upper echelon of professional basketball in the United States, but only four teams will be able to move to the more established league.
The Tropics, led by owner‑coach‑player Jackie Moon, must finish fourth in the ABA and draw an average of two‑thousand spectators per game in order to have any chance of achieving glory in the NBA and evade the danger of dissolving into mediocrity.
“Semi‑Pro” offers audiences a sweet spot between sports melodrama and parody, with its many allusions to sports history, including the origins of the slam‑dunk and three‑point shooting contests in the ABA, and the influence of Julius “Doctor J” Erving on up‑and‑coming basketball superstars. Furthermore, the film pokes fun of the 1970's as a clown’s fantasy and depicts the decade’s contradictory ideals of utopianism and brutishness, evidenced by Moon’s motto of E.L.E: Everybody Loves and Everybody and his propensity to physically and verbally abuse his team.
“Semi‑Pro” was not a great comedy, but still provided enough lively performance for it to satisfy a majority of viewers, hence my recommendation to readers to wait to watch this film on DVD or VHS.