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August 14, 2008
Semi-Pro: Let's Get Sweaty 2 Disc Edition Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
3/4/20086/8/2008Village RoadshowKent Alterman
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
VC-1DTS-HD MA 7.1MWill Farrell

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Will and Woody in Semi-Pro.

Will Farrell is an actor and comedian who, to be honest, I haven't been a big fan of. That changed a couple of years ago when I saw Elf, a light hearted, entertaining Christmas comedy. Since then my appreciation has increased as I have become fans of movies such as Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory and have enjoyed his cameos in movies such as Wedding Crashers and Starsky and Hutch. Semi-Pro though, didn't catch my eye. The trailers were lame, and the buzz wasn't good so it wasn't until the movie hit Blu-Ray that I would check this movie out.

Semi-Pro is set in 1976 against the backdrop of the maverick ABA – a fast-paced, wild and crazy basketball league that rivaled the NBA and made a name for itself with innovations like the three-point shot and slam dunk contest. Will Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, a one-hit wonder who used the profits from the success of his chart-topping song "Love Me Sexy" to achieve his dream of owning a basketball team. But Moon’s franchise, the Flint Michigan Tropics, is the worst team in the league and in danger of folding when the ABA announces its plans to merge with the NBA. If they want to survive, Jackie and the Tropics must now do the seemingly impossible – win.

For those of you unaware the ABA was actually real. The American Basketball Association was formed in 1967 and did indeed merge, in part, with the NBA after the 1976 season. The ABA actually brought with it the 3 point line. In terms of teams the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs moved into the NBA. For this movie, the Flint Michigan Tropics, are a fictional team that didn't actually appear in the league. That means that despite being set in a real situation, everything in this movie has been made up, obviously to allow for as many hilarious setups as possible.

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J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney; semipro's parents.
My biggest problem with this movie, there is simply too much Will Farrell if you know what I mean. He goes on and on and rarely gives his co-actors time to shine. Woody Harrelson is a great actor, but is shut down too often, while Andre Benjamin (Outkast singer) is electric when he's on screen but, again, whenever he gets screen time more often then not Will Farrell ends up hijacking his scenes. Maura Tierney (ER, Liar Liar) is brilliant as Ed's girlfriend Laura, and she shines as her screen time is spent with Woody Harrelson rather then anyone else.

As an actual comedy there are some amusing moments in this movie. The Bear fight, the costumes and dancing routines with the team, play with the gun around the poker table and, ermm, I'm sure there are more. If you don't like Will Farrell avoid this movie like the plague, if you do like him you may want to check this out, but it's certainly not one of his best movies.

Sadly, with a worldwide take of only $US43 million it seems the majority of the movie going public were like myself in avoiding this movie like the plague at the cinemas, and it has easily become one of the Will Farrell's biggest failures at the box office. Having now seen the movie now twice on Blu-Ray I can safely say that I, like you, didn't really miss anything.

Encoded at 1080p in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 using the VC-1 codec the visual quality on this disc is impressive, but not quite as exciting as we hoped. Indeed many of the scenes are rich in detail and show some wonderful vibrant colours. The sharpness of this release over the DVD is certainly evident and the fine details are often evident.

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Maura Tierney in Semi-Pro.
Now I did say often because unfortunately at times this picture appears a little soft with some inconsistent levels of sharpness between scenes. Some of the scenes also appear a little flat with a lack of contrast. Having said that this may be intentional to retain the 1970's look and feel of the movie. Either way I wouldn't call this a 'reference quality' disc, and even it is as intended, it's not a look that really stands out in theatrical experiences these days.

Sonically this disc is certainly given the best possible treatment with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. Actually, for a movie like this the audio format is a bit of overkill in our books, but we'll take it nonetheless. In keeping with the theme of the movie the soundtrack and to a lesser extent the effects in this movie are very much geared towards the 1970's disco era. Music is wonderful and dialogue is clear at all times

If you're looking for a reference quality Blu-Ray disc though you may want to look elsewhere. There are no big effects sequences (explosions, car chases and the like) and even the basketball matches for the majority of the movie are played with near non-existent crowds thereby stripping the movie of plenty of atmosphere. Unfortunately there isn't as much use of the surround sound channels as we would have expected.

English is the only subtitle track on this disc and from samples it was accurate to dialogue on screen.

Semi-Pro has been given the full treatment on Blu-Ray with the movie being presented in a 2-disc set to allow a truckload of extras. One interesting, and disappointing, omission is that of an audio commentary, but there's plenty more to keep you busy...

Original Theatrical and Unrated Extended Versions of the Film: Not really an extra, but worthwhile pointing out that the first disc contains both the original theatrical (91 minute) and uncut extended (98 minute) versions of the film. I actually preferred the theatrical due to a slightly tighter editing and better pacing.

Deleted Scenes (6:36/HD): Presented in HD with DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound these could have been put back into the movie quite easily. The alternate ending which tells you what happened to the main characters is a bit slow, but entertaining.

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Andre Benjamin is an entertaining actor.
Improv (8:40/HD): Vulgar, but rather entertaining. These Improv sessions are worth a look.

A Short History of the ABA (6:50/HD): Cast, crew and original players talk about the now defunct American Basketball Association which was a real league in America until merging into the NBA. An interesting, albeit brief, look at the original league with plenty of original footage.

Re-Creating the ABA (12:45/HD): A look at what lengths the movie makers went to re-creating the look of the ABA. Much of this feature focuses on the training camp that the basketballers and actors went to, but also touches upon the costumes and locations.

"Love Me Sexy": The Story Behind the One Hit Wonder (5:24/HD): How the song came about, the table reading, and building the song.

Bill Walton Visits the Set (2:40/HD): Retired NBA player and now sportscaster Bill Walton Visits the set and mucks around with Will Farrell. Brief and rather pointless really.

4 Days in Flint (5:38/HD): A far too brief look at filming in Flint. This really could, and should, have been expanded for inclusion on this release.

The Man Behind Semi-Pro (23:56/HD): The meatiest of the features on this disc is still a little too promotional and commentary based for my liking but is worth a look. There is some nice behind the scenes footage, and some interesting details regarding the development and production.

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Jackie Moon wants to talk.
"Love Me Sexy" Music Video (1:59/HD): The video clip for the main song in the movie.

Flint Tropics Hot Talk with Dick Pepperfield (2:39): To videos are available, "Ball Girls" and "Pancakes and Camels". Somewhat amusing, but only presented in Standard Definition.

Trailers (4:45/HD): Three trailers, the Teaser, Theatrical and Red Band (uncut) are presented here. Having re-watched them it's probably somewhat less surprising that this movie failed at the box office.

Super Agility Trainer: An all new Java based game?! Woo hoo! But wait, what we have here is a cut down version of pong! In Black and White. This will keep you entertained for about a minute.

If you really love Will Farrell then Semi-Pro is worth a look, but if you don't like his style of comedy then you'll want to avoid this at all costs. The video quality was a little inconsistent but the audio and extras were solid. Worth a rent perhaps.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.