Semi-Pro review

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Will Ferrell wearing a bulbous Afro wig is amusing. Will Ferrell wearing knee-high white socks and nothing else except his chest pubes and a strategically placed basketball over his 'nads is so hilarious you'll laugh until a little bit of wee comes out. Unless of course, you've never understood the appeal of Big Will. In which case Semi-Pro is definitely not the Ferrell movie that'll cause involuntary bladder-emptying, since in truth it's only semi-funny…

The latest outing to roll off the workaholic funnyman’s own comedy conveyor belt is a '70s-set sports movie that slots right in beside Blades Of Glory and Talladega Nights. Ferrell plays another implausibly monikered hero: Jackie Moon, the player/owner/coach/promoter of crap basketball team the Flint Michigan Tropics who are bottom of the ABA league… no, not the ABBA league (though given the movie's wardrobe of platform shoes and big lapels you might think otherwise) but a real-life basketball association that died in the '70s when the more professional NBA took over the court.

As Jackie struggles to keep his team from permanent relegation, Semi-Pro tosses improvised skits around like comedy candy. Some hit, some miss but all are surreally stupid: you'll remember the ill-advised make-up incident ("I feel like a cat pissed in eye!"); Jackie getting punched in the duodenum; and why it's always better to call someone a cocksucker rather than a jive-turkey...

The towering man-child star presides over it all with his usual outraged/confused goofiness (highpoint: Ferrell wrestling a bear that then escapes into a packed audience of sports fans - "If you've got a small child, use it as a shield!"). But he never quite hits his stride, leaving the rest of the ensemble cast - including Woody Harrelson as a former NBA champ and a great turn from Will Arnett’s mild-mannered sports commentator – to dribble around him. Ok, there's no "I" in "team", but in a Will Ferrell vehicle you do expect a bit more Willy…

No slamdunk-ing masterpiece, Semi-Pro's got some classic Ferrell moments (bring out the bear!) but the belly laughs come and go. Maybe it's time for "Wilf" to take a break from sporting laughers before he completely drops the ball.

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