Theater Hopper - March 3: Count Your Sheep
by Tom Brazelton
March 3, 2008
Theater Hopper is a webcomic about all things movies written and illustrated by Tom Brazelton. Starring Tom, his wife Cami, and friend Jared, Theater Hopper perfectly captures Tom's own feelings and reactions to recent and upcoming movies in a way that will easily have you laughing out loud. Updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and featuring a blog post written by Tom, this is the comic that every movie-lover out there won't want to miss. The latest comic and blog has been posted below.
I know I kind of covered a little ground already in regards to Semi-Pro, but I decided to revisit that territory after having the chance to sit down and watch the film over the weekend.
How was it? In a word - "terrible."
You have no idea what the weight of that lone word means coming out of my mouth. I'm a huge Will Ferrell fan. How huge? How about "A Night at the Roxbury wasn't that bad" huge? I'm willing to forgive a lot when it comes to Ferrell's misfires.
I've never been able to fully explain what it is about Ferrell I find so interesting. I think the majority of it has to do with his delivery. Just the way he'll put emphasis on a certain word in a sentance hit me just right.
For example, there's a scene in the trailer where a woman suspiciously asks Ferrell's minor-league basketball lethario Jackie Moon if he's ever been to an orgy…
"I just GOT BACK from an orgy!" he responds, incredulously.
On paper… not funny. But Ferrell makes it funny.
Incidentally, that scene is nowhere NEAR the final cut of the movie. Actually, there are a lot of scenes in the trailer that aren't in the movie. The thing is, even if you tossed them back in, I don't think it would have made a lick of difference.
That's the problem with this train wreck - it has no direction from an editorial standpoint. So the jokes that are mixed in to the plot have no anchor to the events happening inside said plot. Everything feels very random or loosely tethered together at best. You could have swapped out any of those missing scenes from the trailers with the final cut and not gained anything.
If you're unaware, Semi-Pro is about a minor-league 1970's basketball team - the Flint, Michigan Tropics - who have a chance to be absorbed into the NBA after a franchise merger. They're lead by owner / coach / power-forward Jackie Moon, who came into possession of the team with the earnings of his #1 hit single "Love Me Sexy" - which really only exists to give Ferrell the opportunity to sing a goofy disco-era sex ballad. It works. The song is damn catchy.
The movie does a good job establishing Moon and a tireless, inventive and somewhat reckless promoter who will do anything for his team. But when shallow stunts fail to draw in the crowds Moon needs to be considered for the merger, he brings in former NBA Champion Ed Monix, played by Woody Harrelson. And it's at this point that the movie comes completely off the rails.
Narratively, it wouldn't be interesting to watch an entire movie of endless promotional schemes cooked up by Ferrell's character. Actual basketball has to come into play. So Harrelson as Monix attempts to whip the team into shape in order to win a few games. Traded for a washing machine, the real reason he accepted the gig is to be closer to a former flame played by Maura Tierney who happens to be dating Monix's biggest fan played by Rob Corddry.
These are all distraction that subtract focus away from Ferrell. Not that Ferrell can't be an effective ensemble player. His tenure on Saturday Night Live and his appearances in Anchorman and Old School prove that.
The problem is that you have two divergent storylines going on. Monix's attempt to rekindle his relationship has nothing to do with the Tropics winning "the big game" or anything else, for that matter. What's worse is that Harrelson appears to be playing the role completely straight. We've al seen what Harrelson can do in a movie like Kingpin. It's a shame he didn't bring a little more of that to the table.
Someone who also plays it straight is Andrew Daly, who plays the Tropics play-by-play commentator - and he gets more laughs doing it. In fact, I'd say he stole the picture right out from under everyone else. No small feat considering the level of (supposed) comedic talent available in this movie.
Semi-Pro ranks as one of Ferrell's worst. It's right up there with Kicking & Screaming and Bewitched, if you ask me. What makes it that much more of a disappointment is the potential lost. Considering this film seems to mix the two obscure genre's Ferrell has mined some of his best gags from - 70's kitched and weird sports - you'd think it would be a home run. Instead it comes off like a desperate, garbled mess.
In fact, you can instantly see how desperate the film is considering the high number of obscenities in the picture. I'm all for a comedy reaching for the hard "R" rating is what's being offered is shocking or outrageous. But in Semi-Pro, they're just throwing it around casually. And, believe me, you've never noticed how much Will Ferrell DOESN'T swear in his movies until you sit through a film where he does almost NOTHING BUT swear through the entire running time.
If you're a Ferrell fan like me, stay far, far away from Semi-Pro. Instead, watch this trailer for his next movie, Step Brothers with John C. Reily - which looks much more promising.
That said, I'm sure that we'll have LOTS to go over tonight during our LIVE broadcast of The Triple Feature podcast over at TalkShoe.com. Be sure to join us at 9:00PM CST with your comments and opinions! We'd be happy to take your calls!
If you're new to Theater Hopper, you can visit the archives to catch up on all of the past comics. New updates will run here on FS.net every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The official site for Theater Hopper is located at: theaterhopper.com.
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