2008 03/11

A review of Semi-Pro. (It’s okay.)

I’m Jackie Moon?Surely, you are aware that Will Ferrell’s schtick is growing tiresome. Kicking and Screaming, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory… It’s obvious that there’s a formula at work here, and watching Will Ferrell sports movies is going to eventually get tiresome for everybody. It bothers me because it seems like creative executives aren’t being creative, they’re saying, “Hey, let’s give Will Ferrell a funny job and just let him go crazy!”

So going into this movie, we already know a few things about it. We know Ferrell will shout a lot, there will be wacky clothing, and wacky attitudes, and there will be a great supporting cast. Thus, it would seem, came Semi-Pro.

However, this phenomenon, the Will Ferrell schtick, has blossomed to a point where filmmakers can actively combat it or endorse it. Films like Stranger Than Fiction rein him in, while ones like Blades of Glory let him loose. One would hope that a balance could be struck, and Semi-Pro is an odd movie for just this reason. Because while the movie would have you believe that Ferrell’s “Jackie Moon” is the hero of the film, he’s not. He’s actually the antagonist.

After the first act, the Tropics trade for a grizzled, old point-guard (Woody Harrelson) and there’s an odd switch in the film’s focus. Harrelson’s Monix is a complex character, attempting to rebuild a lost relationship with his ex-wife, living off the glory of having played in the NBA (he’s basically Crash Davis from Bull Durham), and he quickly takes over coaching the team, prompting them towards fundamental play and an unlikely winning streak. That sounds like a lead role, doesn’t it?

Farrell’s character does nothing to provide momentum. Instead, many of the obstacles that the team must overcome involve simply getting Jackie Moon to calm down. His passion for the team and outlandish promotions hinder the team more than they help, to the point where the opposing ideologies of basketball, fundamental vs. fun, become the difference between Monix and Moon. In the end, of course, both are needed.

What a strange concept, structurally. It’s almost as if the script was written and then, years later, rewritten to give a minor but humorous character the lead because Ferrell was attached. It’s as if they knew Ferrell would steal the movie, so they preemptively gave it to him. However off-putting this strategy is, it does seem to work. Will Ferrell does his schtick, but is eventually relegated to a supporting cast member as the other characters, most notably Harrelson and Andre 3000, assert themselves on the plot.

There’s a bottom line here, and that is: Semi-Pro is funny. Ferrell hadn’t been really funny in a while, and this is a good comedy. It’s also a great sports movie. There aren’t many good basketball comedies… Celtic PrideLike Mike… Semi-Pro belongs near the head of the “good basketball comedies” list.


A Graphical Representation of Will Ferrell’s Humorousness over Time

A Graphical Representation of Will Ferrell’s Humorousness over Time

Don’t ask me about the mathematical data used in the calculation of this graph. It’s overly complex, and would take days to explain it to a layman like you. Rest assured, it’s very scientific. Furthermore, the formula contained herein is proprietary and I simply can’t allow it to fall into the wrong hands.

Kurt Runs

2008 02/27

Kurt is late for his wedding. Shit.

Almost Wednesday: Episode 3

2008 02/11

Almost Ash Wednesday

Almost Wednesday: Episode 2

2008 02/11

An interview with the author of Robotcop Too.

Read the novel.

Almost Wednesday: Episode 1

2008 02/11

A Series of Ill-Advised Heath Ledger Jokes.

Tuesday, January 22nd 2008. A chronology:

12:30 Heath Ledger is found dead in his Manhattan apartment.

3:00 Kurt, Eric and I start re-writing Kurt’s monologue for the night’s show, using Ledger’s passing as the funny.

3:30 We suddenly have a dozen new jokes to choose from. The rest of the monologue is thrown out.

7:00 Things spiral out of control. More people get involved. The entire sketch is thrown out and re-written.

11:00 Kurt goes on stage.

11:05 Kurt leaves the stage.  He shouts “GET A NEW AUDIENCE!”
Fred’s response – “I think we’ll have to.”

EXACTLY How to Cook a Turkey

2007 11/23

How me and Frankie spent Thanksgiving.

The Man

2007 09/28

Youtube has been forced to take down my “Shame on a Simpson” video because of alleged copyright infringement. Fine.

At its time of death, my video had:
and 4.5 stars

It was a good piece of fair use art, in my opinion. Luckily, some other people on youtube liked the video enough to download it and host it themselves:

Maybe we’ll keep handing this off like it’s the Watergate story. That would be fun.