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Semi-Pro is an outrageous comedy 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 more about Semi-Pro and the Semi-Pro Blu-ray release, see Semi-Pro Blu-ray Review published by J.C. Ribera on June 1, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, André Benjamin, Maura Tierney, Andrew Daly, Will Arnett
Director: Kent Alterman
» See full cast & crew
Semi-Pro Blu-ray Review
To dream the impossible dream, Love me sexy. A comedy about the ABA
Reviewed by J.C. Ribera, June 1, 2008
Semi Pro, the debut film of director Kent Alterman, starring Will Ferrell and Woody Harrelson is a comedy about the last days of the American Basketball Association, set during the colorful disco lighted years of the 70's. The story follows Tropics' basketball team player, coach, promoter, owner, and one time hit wonder Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell) as he tries to get his team to win enough games to reach 4th place to qualify for a merger that will absorb the best 4 teams of the ABA into the National Basketball Association. If they don't achieve that, the team will cease to exist, and for Jackie Moon and his players, that will be the end of their way of life. It's the classic story of the underdog team that needs to win. Just that in this case, the team really sucks, and Jackie Moon's dilemma is that he's really not that good of a coach-owner, in fact he is almost a borderline con- man (but of course with a heart of gold). But win he must so he does his damnedest best to get his team to reach their goal, starting by trading in a bench-warmer pro basketball player named Monix (Woody Harrelson) and coming up with great ideas like free pancake day to get fans to show up and fill the stadium. Such is the quest of the athlete that wrote the wonder hit "Love me sexy" and who's ideals include everybody love everybody (sexy) and dancing in the half time.
Now what sets this film apart from many underdog sports teams movies is that: it's a comedy, it starts Will Ferrell, it deals warmly with basketball history, and, it's set in the groovy, bell bottomed afro-tastic dancing music 70's. Not the greatest movie of it's kind, the recreation of the 70's groove and the charming silliness of Jackie Moon's antics, together with some well shot basketball scenes, made the film work good enough for me so that I ended up enjoying it. I have to say I'm not a big sports fan, meaning I don't follow games and seasons, but I do enjoy watching the occasional basketball game, or in this case a movie about a sport. Coming in both R-rated and "unrated sweaty" versions (I watched the sweaty one), the movie is full of vulgar jokes and curse words from everybody ranging from priestly umpires, through players, whacked boyfriends, and the most jaded and square commentator pair in basketball. But hey you know you're getting into that if you're buying a disc whose cover tells you right upfront Lets Get Sweaty.
What I really liked about the movie was the recreation of the 70's intertwined with the story of the ABA's basketball games. A real version is what makes it special, writer Scot Armstrong points out in the supplements. Far from being the greatest comedy or example of a sport movie, nevertheless the characters have their charm, and at the end you're rooting for the silly Moon and his team to win, and the fine Scope photography finally ends sucking you into the court and you enjoy the games. Just like when you sit to watch a game "for a while" ;).
In between the playing, there's almost everything but the kitchen sink thrown in: disco music, hot cheerleaders in the background, stoned fans, Evel Knievel stunts, fruit dancing, and even killer circus bears.. Yes I said circus bear. The movie also sports its small share of cameos, from 70's recording stars, to ABA players. On top of the comedy there's also a bit of drama anchored by the characters that Woody Harrelson and musician André Benjamin (as Coffee Brown) play, complete with authentic 70's era long hair and all.
Semi-Pro Blu-ray, Video Quality
New Line's Semi Pro Blu-ray Disc comes as a two disc edition with the movie having a disc to itself. The Super 35 photography is presented in 1080p high bit VC-1 video of 2.35 aspect ratio. This is another transfer that looks fine enough thrown onto a Constant Image Height scope screen. Grainy throughout most of the movie, the cinematography brings the 70's looks of glittering dense colors almost to a fine art. The basketball game sections seem to been purposely given that look of pushed Kodacolor ASA 400 negative film used by sports photographers at the time, as seen in magazines like Sports Illustrated and Modern Photography. That's one of the reasons I wound up being sucked into the photography, because as I watched the 70's game scenes they looked as if the grainy photographs of that era, with their brownish ASA 400 flesh tones set against contrasty uniform whites, had suddenly come to life, expanded into a widescreen shape, and turned into motion. People that don't like grain might not like the authentic look, but it surely brings in the 70's sport to the screen making the movie more realistic, and accurately transporting you where you should be. Instead of how out of place a film about the sport in the 70's would have looked if it was photographed digitally clean into a modern look like it was shot today. Maybe the way it looks will not resonate as much to people that didn't live through it all, but for me it was a great authentic touch.
The wide Scope framing is used for good effect, and is great for all that horizontally running basketball action in a way that I think 16:9 can't even touch. (After watching the 2.35 movie, the 4:3 clips on the supplements are almost painful). Close ups have facial detail, sometimes maybe too much in the case of Will Ferrell, which is great, and even with all the action going on I didn't notice any artifacts, which I'm sure the high bit rates used ensured properly. In fact at some point I stopped being mindful of the transfer as it seemed fine, and all I did after that was watch and enjoy the movie.
Semi-Pro Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As customary with New Line releases the Semi-Pro Blu-ray comes with DTS HD MA 7.1 Lossless sound. It has a couple of directional surround sequences, and the 70's music, including the new 70's hit Love Me Sexy, sung by Jackie Moon and produced by Nile Rodgers, sound from very good to excellent considering their vintage sound. During the games you get crowd effects and the bouncing dribble of the ball, while main dialogue is reproduced cleanly and you can understand every nuance, specially good for the sport commentators running throughout the film. Not an spectacular mix in design for this kind of film, which makes sense as it's based on real life. DTS MA tracks always sound effortless. No complaints there. The disc also has English SDH subtitles and espańol ones
Semi-Pro Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
New Line, true to form, brings Semi-Pro with its also customary second disc dedicated to extras. Inside the BD case, you'll find the 2 disc's labels reproduce basketballs in a color style similar to the ABA basketball, a nice touch.
Also inside: a one sheet ad for the Semi-Pro soundtrack CD of the songs in the movie, and in keeping with the Sweaty edition theme, limited time $1.00 off coupons for Old Spice deodorant and body wash.
The extras include:
About seven minutes of Deleted/Alternate Scenes:
The one minute and a half alternate narrator's Dick Pepperfield Opening presented in 4:3 TV format inside the Scope area.
Can be watched as one of those old style trailers that used to tell you about an upcoming film which were totally independent of the film.
The two minute Monix Prologue where you see a bit into Monix past and his success as a basketball player, with the rewarding rapport he has with some of his fans.
Tropical Fever Dance, where we see some really smoking and unique Tropical choreography dance from the team for one minute. Colorful.
The Two and a half minute Alternate Ending: Where are they know? If you want to know more, click here.
Then we have around 8 or 9 minutes of Improvs left on the cutting floor:
With Dick and Lou, the sport commentators let it all out while watching the cheerleaders for a minute and a half.
Almost 4 full minutes of the Tropics Weekly TV interview segment off-the-air chatter. Nothing much interesting except it looked sharp and grainy.
Andy and Amy and Will. Here you see more than 3 minutes worth of the continuous improvs of some scenes with different lines of dialogue that weren't used in the film. Not anything great but interesting to see how the actor's stream of consciousness evolves when coming up with lines and the acting effort it takes to keep it up for a while. Amy doesn't let go the vulgarity ;)
All of the above are in 1080p 2.35 OAR in high bitrate VC-1 and DTS multichannel sound
Then we get around 55 minutes of Behind The Scenes segments, all in 16:9 Fullscreen 1080i VC-1 DTS Stereo:
The 7 minute A short history of the ABA , where former players, with a backdrop of TV clips, give a brief overview about the differences between the ABA and NBA back then, some of the stars that came from it and basketball features that are common today, and how the merger between the two leagues occurred. While the interviews are done in 16:9, the old film and video clips are of course in 4:3.
Recreating the ABA is almost 13 minutes on how the movie went by making the basketball playing real and the locations , props, uniforms, and the even the ball look authentic.
The 5 minute and a half Love Me Sexy: the story behind the song has Will Ferrell in the studio singing the song while music producer Nile Rodgers explains a bit of how they went for that 70's vibe to recreate a song that would fit right in with the era.
Almost 3 minutes long, Bill Walton visits the sets has the NBA player donning a Tropics team uniform and being made up to look similar to the way he looked back then and reminisce with the director over a famous incident that happened in a game between a player and an obnoxious fan who kent turned out to be the director himself! Small world, eh
Four days in Flint, Michigan, is 3 and a half minutes of location behind the scenes in the town, and its people being excited by the film shooting.
The Man Behind Semi-Pro is the usual 23 minute Making-of where the director and the actors, etc, talk about everyone who collaborated and the casting choices. Nothing groundbreaking here, just behind the scenes shots and the actors out of character and in character if you want to see more of the movie.
Then we get to the Promotions:
Includes the 2 minute Love Me Sexy video in 2.35 1080p DTS stereo (Well, some superimposed overlays letters and SFX go beyond the borders of the Scope frame). Too bad it's not in multichannel. It would have been great in 8-track groovy Quad ;)
There are two Flint Tropics - Hot Talk with Dick Pepperfield promos shot like real TV-of- the-era promos in authentic Standard Definition with tape dropouts and bad color included.
One is about "Ball" girls and the other one is about camels and pancakes.
We have the 46 second Teaser that looks so contrasty and sharp it'll scare you with TOO much of Jackie Moon. You've been warned. A great supplement as it's totally different footage not on the movie.
The Trailer and the R-rated Trailer (2 and a half, and 1 minute 48, respectively) are also good (the R one is R from all the dialogue and maybe some gun action). All three trailers above are 1080p 2.35, the teaser and trailer in multichannel DTS, the R-rated one in Stereo.
And finally you have the Super Agility Trainer PS0 1080p60 video game that will turn you into a snake- fast reflex endowed super-athlete with the latest, most advanced graphics pushing the state of the art.
Of the 70's.
Almost challenging the Cell processor in its faithful rendering of CRT video lag smear, as the.. mmm.. err.. square "basketball" moves from left to right, who needs a hardware game emulator on the 40G? BD-Java to the rescue. retro extreme.
Of all these, I found most worthwhile to watch the Deleted Scenes, the Teaser, the regular Trailer, and Lovemesexy video; and the ABA related history that gives a perspective of the historical context backdrop of the movie for those that didn't live through the era.
Semi-Pro Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you like all these: Will Ferrell comedies, basketball, and the liberated outrageous 70's, you'll probably like this movie. If some or none of those things appeal to you then the movie might not be as atractive. Presented in a good looking, accurate to the era Scope transfer - which you can see on the screen captures- and fine sounding if not spectacular lossless multichannel audio with some nice nice disco era songs thrown in, I found myself enjoying the movie more than I thought I would and liked it.
A light R-rated/unrated comedy with some basketball action, Semi-Pro might or might not be your cup of tea, but remember if it isn't, you can always Love me seeeexyyy
Semi-Pro: Other Editions
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Semi-Pro Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Semi-Pro Extras Get Announced - March 31, 2008
New Line Home Entertainment has released the extras that will be included on the upcoming Blu-ray release of the Will Ferrell comedy 'Semi-Pro: Let's Get Sweaty Edition', due to hit store shelves on June 3rd, day-and-date with the DVD release. This two disc release ...
• Semi-Pro Coming to Blu-ray in June - March 24, 2008
New Line Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Will Ferrell comedy 'Semi-Pro' to Blu-ray on June 3rd, day-and-date with the DVD release. No specs have been announced at this time, but expect VC-1 video accompanied by a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. ...
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