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Semi-Pro in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Semi-Pro

THE STARS:
Will Ferrell • Woody Harrelson • Andre Benjamin • Will Arnett • Andrew Daly
DIRECTOR: Kent Alterman

Will Ferrell THE CONCEPT:
Set in the ‘70s, Jackie Moon (Ferrell) plays for the fictitious American Basketball Association team the Tropics; he also has a flair for publicity, recording the hit single Love Me Sexy. When the team discovers the ABA is going to be disbanded, and only the top four teams will go onto the NBA, Moon, assisted by former NBA benchwarmer Monix (Harrelson), decides to rally their motley team for an unlikely eleventh-hour pursuit of fourth place.

U.S. RELEASE: February 29 2008, Nationwide
• Rated: R

THE COMMENTS:

WILL FERRELL on his physical physique:
Will Ferrell & Kent Alterman“I pretty much stereotypically have a basketball physique to begin with, so it didn’t take that much sculpting. [he laughs] Jackie Moon is a player from a different era, when players were a little more voluptuous; curvy. I felt completely at home in the costume and the hair. Looking at a lot of the reference photos of the league and the period, it obviously looks funny, but it’s not that far from the truth. I love the fact that it really is sort of historically accurate and humorous looking at the same time.”

ANDRE BENJAMIN (Clarence):
Andre Benjamin“When I had to audition for the film, I had to walk into a room and audition with Will, so I guess once I got over that it wasn’t too bad. With music you freestyle a lot and you kind of throw ideas out and when you read a script and want to make your character as real as possible, you sometimes just go off on a tandem and you [improv].”

FERRELL on doing three sports movies, Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Blades of Glory and Semi-Pro, in a row:
“This is actually a coincidence that these movies lined up the way they did. I love combining sports and comedy together. But only one of those was my idea, that was the NASCAR movie, otherwise I was asked to be a part of these. So, that having been said, it’s a great framework to do a comedy in. You can parody the sport, in this movie you can parody the era, and at the same time you have a built in arc that’s fun for the audience to watch, which is this team of losers try to attain the lofty goal of fourth place.”

WILL ARNETT (Lou Redwood, team commentator):
Andre Benjamin“Lou’s a former player and current commentator for the Tropics and sometimes for the ABA, for the league itself. He’s the right hand man of Dick Pepperfield [Andrew Daly], the play-by-play announcer for the Tropics. But not unlike the mighty Redwoods in the great northwest, Lou Redwood can stand alone and stand tall. But after calling the game for a while, you start to see other stuff, and you just start calling it like you see it. And you also start trying to amuse yourself as you watch the guys run the same play a hundred times in a row. I would say that ninety percent of good improv comes out of sheer boredom.”

FERRELL:
“Will and Andrew were kind of in a contained situation where you could just roll the camera and they could come up with 8,000 things that we’d cherry pick as to what worked for the scene. The typical pattern was we’d start filming the scenes written and then slowly throw some zingers in there.”

BENJAMIN:
“I guess my character Clarence is the most athletic of them all. He has this natural ability from the neighborhood or from the playground style of playing. He likes to go for all the shots and doesn’t like to pass the ball. He doesn’t even run down the court to play defense.”

FERRELL:
“We had something like 15 choreographed plays that we had to run and set up because you can’t just roll the basketball out there, because you’ve got to concentrate on what the plays are going to be so that you can set up the cameras. Sometimes we’d run the play and they’d say, ‘Whatever happens, whether you make the basket or not, we’re going to have free play for the next three minutes and just literally see what happens. So we went down on the court and there were 1,800 people there, and I made a shot and the crowd went crazy. I felt like a real basketball player.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © New Line Cinema
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #694, April 2008 cover

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