Semi-Pro is a 2008 American sports comedy film from New Line Cinema. The film was directed by Kent Alterman and stars Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, AndrÃ© Benjamin and Maura Tierney. The film was shot in Los Angeles near Dodger Stadium (in the gym of the Los Angeles City Fire Department Training Center), in Detroit, and in Flint, Michigan. It was released in theaters on February 29, 2008 and was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on June 3, 2008. This was the last film from New Line Cinema before they merged with Warner Bros..
In 1976, Jackie Moon is a singer who has used the profits from his one hit single "Love Me Sexy" to buy a basketball team in the American Basketball Association, the Flint Tropics, becoming the owner, head Coach, and starting power forward. The ABA Commissioner announces a plan to merge the league with the National Basketball Association, but only four teams will move to the more established league. The Tropics, the worst team in the league, are in danger of dissolving. In response, Jackie argues that the teams with the four best records overall should be merged into the NBA. The Commissioner reluctantly accepts Jackie's offer.
Now that the Tropics have somewhat of a shot to be an NBA franchise, Jackie trades away the team's washing machine to the Kentucky Colonels for Ed Monix, former backup point guard for the NBA Champion Boston Celtics. Soon, the Commissioner reveals that as well as having a top-four record, the Tropics will also need a stable fan base and have an attendance of at least 2,000 fans at every remaining home game of the season.
Jackie begins to stage extremely desperate stunts, like wrestling a bear named Dewie after a basketball game. The Tropics begin playing better with Monix, as well as the increased intensity of Clarence Withers. Monix soon takes over as offensive and defensive co-ordinator, as well as starting point guard, leaving Jackie merely the title of head Coach. Monix trains the team rigorously with a play he calls the "Puke" as the players are to run it, until they throw up.
From Monix's training, the Tropics go on a winning run, moving them up from last to fifth. Suddenly Jackie, now extremely excited about the possibilities in his grasp, gets a visit from the Commissioner. The Commissioner tells the team that the NBA does not think that Flint has a large enough media market and will not allow the Tropics into the league even if they beat the first place San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. Distressed, Jackie admits that he stole "Love Me Sexy" from a napkin his mother wrote on three weeks before she died. Now realizing that all his assets, including the team, are basically stolen, Jackie trades Withers to the Spurs so that he may realize his dream in the NBA. Monix inspires the team to leave everything on the court as, while they may not be able to continue the franchise after this season, they have come very far and still have a lot to prove.
Going into the Spurs game, which Moon declares the "MegaBowl", the Tropics are in fifth place and with a win they would make it into fourth, although they have no chance in making it into the NBA. The game begins and the Tropics fall behind quickly. In the closing seconds of the first half, Jackie gets fouled hard by Spurs player Petrelli while going up for a shot and is injured. Withers decides he has seen enough and rushes in to the Tropics locker rooms with the rest of the team, which angers the Spurs players and Coach.
During halftime, an unconscious Jackie imagines that he is in heaven with his mother. He apologizes for stealing her song and then she gives him a weapon in order to win the final game of the franchise. Awaking in the locker room, he tells the team what they are going to do to win. Back on the court, the Tropics reveal their new weapon: the alley-oop. With the return of Withers, it is very effective and he leads the charge. At first, the referee calls the play a foul, but after some persuasion by Jackie and Monix, is soon convinced that it is a legitimate score. The Tropics take advantage of this new strategy and begin coming back. After the Spurs start defending against the Alley-Oop, Monix calls a time-out and calls for them to run the "Puke" with 12 seconds left and down by two points, 115â"117. The play gives Jackie the ball, but he gets fouled hard again with two seconds left. Shooting granny style, Moon sinks the first basket. The second rebounds off and Monix tips it in right at the buzzer for two points to score a victory for the Tropics.
The Coach of the Spurs offers Withers his position back on the team. The now-former ABA Commissioner offers Jackie a position on the staff of the NBA Assistant Commissioner, as a marketing director. Just as Jackie is about to accept, the Commissioner is mauled by the bear Jackie wrestled with earlier.
- Will Ferrell as Jackie Moon â" The owner/player/coach of the failing Flint Tropics, famous for the aging disco hit "Love Me Sexy".
- AndrÃ© Benjamin as Clarence Withers / Coffee Black / Downtown "Funky Stuff" Malone - dreams to play in the NBA, although all he ever does is gossip about going.
- Woody Harrelson as Ed Monix â" The aging point guard, and former NBA Champion, although he sat through every playoff game for the Boston Celtics.
- Andrew Daly as Dick Pepperfield â" Play-By-Play Announcer for the Tropics.
- Will Arnett as Lou Redwood â" Color Commentator for the Tropics. While calling the game, smokes cigarettes and drinks Scotch.
- Matt Walsh as Father Pat â" Although a priest, he is the referee for almost all ABA games, not just the Tropics home contests.
- Andy Richter as Bobby Dee â" General Manager for the Tropics.
- Jay Phillips as Scootsie Double Day â" Point Guard for the Tropics.
- Josh Braaten as Twiggy Munson â" Small Forward for the Tropics.
- Peter Cornell as Vakidis â" Center for the Tropics. Does not understand English.
- DeRay Davis as Bee Bee Ellis â" Guard/Forward and also the sixth man for the Tropics.
- David Koechner as Alan Ault - ABA Commissioner who doesn't hold Jackie in high-esteem.
- Maura Tierney as Lynn â" Ed Monix's love-interest.
- Rob Corddry as Kyle â" Lynn's new boyfriend. Also a big fan of Ed Monix.
- Jackie Earle Haley as Dukes â" An unemployed hippie who makes a full-court shot to win $10,000 the Tropics don't have.
- Jason Sudeikis as Danny, one of the few Tropics' season ticket holders
- Tim Meadows as Cornelius Banks â" A friend of Jackie's who thinks he plays for the Tropics
- Kristen Wiig as Bear Trainer Girl â" Only been with the bear for that day
- Ed Helms as Turtleneck reporter
- Brian Huskey as White Pants reporter
- Collette Wolfe as Melinda the Ball Girl
- Ian Roberts as Spurs Coach
- Phil Hendrie as Nets Coach
- Pat Kilbane as Petrelli â" Ruthless Anaheim Amigos power forward with a heated rivalry with both Jackie Moon and Ed Monix.
- Patti LaBelle as Jackie's Mom â" Appeared in Jackie's unconscious dream to invent the Alley-Oop.
- Ellia English as Ms. Quincy, Clarence's mother â" Always at every Tropic game to support her son as well as the team.
- Artis Gilmore as Restaurant customer #1
- George Gervin as Restaurant customer #2
Dewie the Bear
The 5-year-old, 7Â 1â2-foot-tall (2.3Â m), 700-pound (320Â kg) male grizzly bear named Rocky appeared in the film in a scene where Will Ferrell's character wrestles him to promote his basketball team. Stuntman and trainer Randy Miller doubled for Ferrell during the wrestling match with the bear. On April 22, 2008, the bear bit 39-year-old Stephan Miller (Randy Miller's cousin and fellow trainer) on the neck, killing him.
- A number shown in the teaser trailer 1-800-TROPICS, when called played a recorded message of Jackie Moon talking about season ticket packages for the 1976 season
- Several ads for Anheuser-Busch were filmed featuring Will Ferrell in character as Jackie Moon that were aired during Super Bowl XLII. Some of the ads touted humorous promotional items with offers expiring in November 1977.
- A music video was released with Jackie Moon singing his 'hit' "Love Me Sexy"
- A prescreening at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas two weeks prior to the box office debut featured an appearance by Will Ferrell and director Kent Alterman. In order to obtain entrance to the theater, all viewers had to wear a basketball uniform similar to the one worn by Ferrell in the film.
- An official Jackie Moon Semi-Pro costume was released in summer 2008 for Halloween.
- A Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue spread featured Ferrell with Heidi Klum.
Semi-Pro received generally negative reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 21% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 157 reviews, although the movie also received a rating of 4.5/10 from the same site. The site's critical consensus reads, "Semi-Pro is an intermittently funny, half-hearted attempt at sports satire, and one of Will Ferrell's weaker cinematic efforts." Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 47 out of 100, based on 29 reviews. Matt Zoeller Seitz of New York Times said, "Semi-Pro finds the sweet spot between sports melodrama and parody, and hammers it for 90 diverting minutes." Peter Travers writing for Rolling Stone stated, "when the script, by Scott Armstrong, shoots air balls, Ferrell is a slam-dunk." Claudia Puig of USA Today said, "Although not exactly a slam dunk, Semi-Pro is definitely more than semi-funny." In his review for The Village Voice, Robert Wilonsky gave the film 2 stars of a possible 4 and wrote that director Kent Alterman, "valiantly tries to tweak the formula by adding a dash more sincerity and humanity to the froth but doesn't get too adventurous. But in the end, it's comedy comfort food, something powdered poured from a box."
Box office performance
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $15 million in 3,121 theaters in the United States and Canada, holding the number one position at the box office. Alicia Chang of the Associated Press described the opening as "lackluster" compared to Ferrell's previous sports spoofs Talladega Nights, which opened with $47 million, and Blades of Glory, which opened with $33 million. The basketball film went on to gross $33,479,698 domestically and $10,405,206 internationally, for a total of $43,884,904 worldwide.
2008 ESPY Awards
- Best Sports Movie ESPY Award
2008 Teen Choice Awards
- Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie - Comedy (Nominated)
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on June 3, 2008. There is a theatrical R-Rated version DVD and a 2-Disc "Let's Get Sweaty" Unrated Edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Special features include unrated deleted scenes and more.
The soundtrack for the film was released on February 26, 2008 and featured songs by LaBelle, WAR, Curtis Mayfield, Will Ferrell, among others. "Love Me Sexy" is sung by the fictional Jackie Moon (played by Will Ferrell).
- "Love Me Sexy" â" Will Ferrell
- "Get Da Funk Out Ma' Face" â" Brothers Johnson
- "Lady Marmalade" â" LaBelle
- "The World Is a Ghetto" â" WAR
- "Tell Me Something Good" â" Ronnie Laws
- "Mr. Big Stuff" â" Jean Knight
- "Give Me Just a Little More Time" â" Chairmen of the Board
- "Why Can't We Be Friends" â" WAR
- "Walking in Rhythm" â" The Blackbyrds
- "Dance to the Music" â" Sly & The Family Stone
- "Love Rollercoaster" â" Ohio Players
- "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" â" Sly & The Family Stone
- "Move on Up" â" Curtis Mayfield
- "Shining Star" â" Elijah Kelley
- The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
- Slap Shot
- Official website
- Official trailer
- Semi-Pro at the Internet Movie Database
- Semi-Pro at Rotten Tomatoes
- Semi-Pro at Metacritic
- Semi-Pro at Box Office Mojo
- Semi-Pro at AllMovie