Genre: Semi-professional sports comedy
The pitch: In the disco-era 1970s, Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell), one-hit pop singer turned American Basketball Association team owner (and "power forward"), must reverse his franchise's lousy fortunes so the failing "Flint Michigan Tropics" can join the NBA.
Money shots: During a televised game, the Tropics brawl with another team during a commercial and stop immediately before the break ends. A disastrous attempt at bear-wrestling (a gag recycled from Anchorman) causes a panic. The fate of the Tropics relies on Jackie's "granny-style" free throw. If you've ever wanted to see OutKast's Andre Benjamin dressed as a giant sea horse, this is your chance.
Best line: "I trade away our washing machine for him," Jackie says, explaining his acquisition of washed-up NBA player Monix (Woody Harrelson), Semi-Pro's substitute Kevin Costner in Bull Durham. The line gets some funny callbacks, such as "I wish you were still a washing machine!"
Fashion statements: Where to begin? Giant lapels, scarves and corduroy blazers are the least unfashionable garments on display. Over his pastel Tropics uniform, Jackie wears a polka-dotted white cape that could belong to a Twister game. The team relaxes in various platform shoes and man-furs. The Tropics wear eyeliner in a misguided attempt to intimidate a rival team. Jackie wears a threadbare, green Evel Knievel outfit for one publicity stunt.
Hair statements: Jackie's limp white-guy Afro isn't even as horrible as Monix's vague Prince Valiant haircut, which makes Harrelson look sort of like his No Country for Old Men co-star Javier Bardem.
MP3-to-be: Jackie's would-be Barry White make-out song, "Love Me Sexy," features immortal lyrics such as, "Let's get real sweaty ... Let's fill the bathtub full of sweat ... all right." Jackie sings amusingly along to the Brothers Johnson's "Get the Funk Out of My Face."
Flesh factor: The Tropics' cheerleaders wear white bikinis that are so bland, it may be a subtle dig on the garishness of the men's clothes. Monix and his ex (Maura Tierney) do the nasty, but the romantic subplot pays off with just a single gag about an obsessive sports fan.
The bottom line: Just how many times can Will Ferrell make the same comedy about a flailing, pasty, self-deluded athlete and/or broadcaster? Following Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro is the laziest and most predictable, but somehow provides the barest minimum of laughs to be worthwhile. Still, if the name "Flint Michigan Tropics" or the idea of a team striving for fourth place fail to amuse you, don't even give Semi-Pro a shot. 3 stars
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