(2008, Kent Alterman)
My first 2008 release. In July! Parenting a small child really makes it tricky sometimes. On the other hand, at least I didn’t pay full price to see this.
Semi-Pro is awkward and unfunny, and Will Ferrell is phoning it in. (However, would you believe I still like it better than Anchorman? The accolades that movie gets still amazes me.) I still think Ferrell is best in small doses (Old School), or at least when he has a competent comedic partner to share the load (the fantastic John C. Reilly in Talledega Nights). But give him too much space to fill and the laughs get sucked right out of the screening room. What Ferrell does here is give the same manchild performance he plays in the majority of his movies. But wait, this time, he does it with an Afro! And there are many other references to the 1970s!
It’s strange that Woody Harrelson, in a thankless role as the straight man, somehow finds the center of this formless film with no real support. I’ve never given him much credit as an actor, but perhaps his above-par work in Kingpin was no accident, nor a result of the much-lauded (at the time) Farrelly Bros’ comic genius. He even gives the lame Win One for the Gipper speech, but makes it feel realistic and heartfelt.
But Harrelson does not play house with Ferrell, like John C. Reilly did. So instead, Ferrell is left alone to spout weird one-liners and wrestle with killer bears. The rest of the cast is left only to react, because they aren’t given anything sufficient to do. I’m hoping there’s an entire gag reel of cut scenes from the usually dependable Will Arnett and Andy Richter, because it would pain me to imagine that these were their complete performances.
All in all, a brick.
But hooray for 2008 DVDs! Happy New Year!