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'Semi-Pro' sinks a two-pointer

REEL CRITIC:

March 06, 2008|By Matt Bellner

If you’re tired of watching boring real-life NBA games, lace up your sneakers and buy a ticket for “Semi-Pro.” It’s a minor league comedy with major league talent and a must see for basketball fans and people who love Will Ferrell. It won’t end up in the Hall of Fame, but it does provide enough laughs to cover Matt’s entertainment spread.

Jackie Moon (Ferrell) is the owner, promoter and flashy-dressing veteran player of the American Basketball Assn.’s Flint Tropics. After the 1976 season, the ABA is going to merge with the NBA, but only four teams from the struggling league will make the transition. If Moon can guide the Tropics to a fourth-place finish while averaging 2,000 fans at home games, his team will be included in the merger. What crazy stunts will Jackie do to increase attendance?

Can Ferrell create a triple double of comedy with action, laughs and suspense? Just like a real game, you have to stick around for the final whistle to find out the score.

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“Semi-Pro” put up an air ball at the box office during its opening weekend, and somebody at New Line Cinema will probably lose his or her job because of this. The reason the film was shut out on the financial scoreboard is because it’s rated R, and parents kept their children away. The young dad in front of me buying tickets refused to let his two boys attend our screening. The rowdy kids caused quite a ruckus and yelled, “Mom would let us see it!” The overwhelmed dad quickly hustled them out of the line.

So how dirty is the material to get the R rating? In my opinion, not dirty enough. It’s a period piece set in the 1970s, and there is some rough language and sexual innuendo but no nudity or bloodshed.

Guess what? Basketball players swear and like beautiful women. As a matter of fact, so do I. Maybe I’m immune because I’ve been around athletes my entire life, but “Semi-Pro” is fine for teenagers, and the movie should have a long career on DVD and cable.

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