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Ace Venturtle Checks Out Will Ferrell in SEMI-PRO! With A Special Bonus Mini-Review!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Comedies, more than any other genre, are test screened and test screened and test screened, and some producers know exactly how to make the most of that process. Today, Ace Venturtle has one and a half reviews for you. The first is yet another Will Ferrell sports comedy, and the second is yet another Judd Apatow produced comedy. For some people, just knowing that means they won’t give these films a fair shake, but if you’re still interested (and I am), then read on:

Venturtle back. Today chiming in with my two cents on Will Farrell Sports Comedy Movie #4, SEMI-PRO. Now it’s only fair to warn that my friends and I walked into this one fairly predisposed to not liking it. I had low expectations. Even though Will Farrell’s got a gift for comedy, another sports movie ain’t no stretch, and he seems to be peaking in terms of his range. But that’s not my only bias. I’m actually in this movie. See, somewhere along the way, this production went low on cash, and put some website, in charge of getting as many people off the street as they could to fill the stands as extras. So for a few mere seconds, I got to see myself on the big screen, albeit a bit out of focus, buried in the stands. It’s like buying a star for 50 bucks. No one will ever know when they see it, except you. That said, I didn’t see anything all that funny happen during my time on set, so I expected this to fall flat. And I was fucking shit wrong. This is Farrell’s funniest movie since Anchorman. Fuck Balls of Fury. Talladega made me laugh, but not like this. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s rated R. Because when you give Farrell the free reign to say whatever the fuck he wants, like say in, I don’t know… Old School, or his Weddding Crashers bit, wouldn’t you know it? He god damn delivers! When Farrell screams, “You are a fucking cocksucker!,” how can you not laugh? Farrell plays Jackie Moon, the owner, announcer, manager, coach, and player of the little known Flint, Michigan Tropics. It’s also the last year of the ABA, which is about to merge with the NBA. And when that happens, only a few teams will be absorbed. So in order for the Tropics to live on, they’ve got to prove their worth with the remainder of the season, or they’re toast. They’ve got to do this not only by actually winning (the cliché of most sports flicks), but by improving their near-nonexistent attendance. This is crucial because it’s where a lot of the movie’s funniest scenes derive from. See, Jackie’s a promoter, and to entice people to come, he infuses every game with a display of entertainment that is just off the fucking wall. Imagine a half time show that’s a 3 round cage match between Will Farrell and a grizzly bear. When we filled out our questionnaires after the credits, I, nor did any of my friends, have the least difficulty in listing our funniest ten scenes. Woody Harrelson does some fine work as Monix, who Jackie brings in to help lead the team to victory. Here’s the catch: Harrelson is pretty compelling, but not comically as you’d expect, but instead because Monix is a seriously fractured and bitter character. He’s warmed the bench all the way to his championship ring. Like he’s received the utmost validation for the work he was denied the chance to earn. He takes a lot of shit for it, especially from Clearance (Andre 3000), the Tropic’s star player. A little too serious for screwball Farrell sports film? Yeah, that’s what caught me off guard too. Rather than simply play every locker room motivational speech for laughs, it treats them with sincerity, and absolutely succeeds in doing so. It’s a gift as much as a curse. It’s paying respect to the sports genre, which I don’t personally care for, and it’s screen time that could be allocated towards making this movie even funnier. I say no points off, because this movie is was hilarious and sufficiently quotable as is. That’s also due to the fact that Farrell’s assisted by a shitload of funny little side characters and cameos who don’t waste a single frame of film not being funny. Honorable Mentions go to both Jackie Earle Haley and Mr. Rob Corddry. The latter having one scene in particular, which I pray to god they don’t cut, will shock you into submission. You’ll know when you see it, and it’s wonderfully disgustingly hilarious. My only complaint is they could’ve done a lot more with Will Arnett. He’s got a few good lines, but in the back of my head I know he’s better than what he’s putting out. One more thing… There’s something else I need to air out, because I just can’t hold this in. Another in-depth review I want to write but can’t bring myself to doing so is for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which I saw last week. The reason is because the cut I saw of this film was so obviously an extremely rough workprint, that I think it’s not at all fair to go ahead and critique a film that’s in such an early stage of editing. It’s common knowledge that Apatow test screens his films extensively to fine-tune them to perfection, and for the first time ever, I really did believe the announcer when he said “You are the absolute first audience to see this movie.” I believed it because to my knowledge, this was still shooting! Shit, I mean I was reading set reports dated just a few days before the screening. The movie began 15 minutes late, and that was so Judd Apatow could discreetly arrive to take his seat, diligently taking notes at what worked and what didn’t. As soon as the lights came back on, he slipped right out the back door. But I digress. The real question is was it or was it not good? The answer is, for a first cut, it was fucking phenomenal. Instead of a detailed review, I’ll just give you some scattered brief tidbits. Jason Segal really throws down the funny, as does the rest of the cast, notably Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hadar, Paul Rudd, and Russell motherfuckin’ Brand. His character, Aldous Snow, is whacked out of his goddamn mind. Picture a loopy zen-minded Bono minus 20 years. I think Moriarty put it best in his set report: He’s “a fucking space alien.” Aside from that, Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis are both gorgeous, not that you need me to tell you that. It naturally ran a little long, which is what a first cut is. Something I kept in mind was that the movie I saw may well be a totally different film than what’s released in theaters. A lot of improvisation goes into these movies, and that results in a lot of takes. Most of the dialogue Moriarty detailed wasn’t even in the version of the scene that I saw, even though the dynamic between the characters was exactly as he described, and was still hilarious. The important thing is that there’s more than enough funny in this package to result in another hit, which is exactly what this looks to be. Stay cool, Ace Venturtle
Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 21, 2007, 9:07 a.m. CST

    Save me Jesus!

    by Rei-Ginsei

    Save me god! Save me Jewish god! - I kind of liked Taladega Nights. At least that part.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 9:35 a.m. CST

    Who's Will Farrell?

    by boyblue

    Is that Colins Brother??

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 9:41 a.m. CST


    by damagedinc


  • Sept. 21, 2007, 9:44 a.m. CST

    I would watch Kristen Wiig in Bad Boys III

    by BadMrWonka

    how can someone that looks like that have so much comedic talent? she's a phenomenon.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 9:48 a.m. CST

    Please, learn to spell "Ferrell" correctly.

    by thebearovingian

    Do it for the kids.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:08 a.m. CST

    Has Wiig got that much talent?

    by ChorleyFM

    She seems incredibly one note to me. Having seen Knocked Up, Brothers Solomon and a fair bit of SNL she seems to be able to do that one snide-bitchy thing very well but that seems about it. I am really interested to see Brand in this, as he is pretty fucking nuts.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:16 a.m. CST

    i'll see anything with Ferrell, though Blades sucked..

    by HamiltonGeyser

    he should make a george bush movie

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:53 a.m. CST


    by The Real MiraJeff

    Nice job. Thanks for the reviews. I'm jealous and encouraged by Semi-Pro's R-rating. Plus it's about damn time we get Woody in another bball comedy.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 11:39 a.m. CST

    I <3 Kristen Wiig

    by Lando Griffin

    that is all

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 11:42 a.m. CST

    That should've said

    by Lando Griffin

    I heart Kristen Wiig

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 11:52 a.m. CST


    by vanchimera

    While I'm generally a fan of Ferrel's flicks, I WANT to believe this review... but I got a weird vibe from it when he said, "See, Jackie's a promoter." People don't talk like that; well, no people I know anyway...

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Will Ferrell as wacky [insert sports career here]

    by Osmosis Jones

    This shit just writes itself, doesn't it?

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 12:47 p.m. CST

    Funniest since "Anchorman"?

    by Abin Sur

    Ugh...why not say "funniest since A Night at the Roxbury"?

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 12:55 p.m. CST

    will ferrell overrated and just not funny

    by Mr_X

    one or two mildy amusing moments in a film, does not make him a comedian. He's just unfunny. The emperors new clothes people!

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 1:11 p.m. CST


    by AceVenturtle

    Good looking out guys. my bad for fucking up the spelling on Ferrell. What can I say, late night i guess. Oh and what I meant was Blades of Glory, not Balls of Fury. I'll be more careful next time.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Insider Information

    by Garbageman33

    I'm friends with a friend of the screenwriter, Scot Armstrong, who swears it's the best thing he's ever done. Of course, that's not exactly a ringing endorsement given that his other films include Road Trip, Starsky and Hutch and School for Scoundrels.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 1:23 p.m. CST

    TIFF! Semi-Pro!!

    by J-Dizzle

    Will Ferrell back to his best? Good deal. I enjoyed Talladega Nights but Anchorman is still his best.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Gotta love Will

    by skimn

    ..understand when he was in Flint, he would sign quotes for people seeking signatures, like "Milk was a bad decision..Will Ferrell"..and the such. And I'm still extending goodwill to Harrelson for Kingpin.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 2:12 p.m. CST

    TOO SOON!!!

    by Pageiv

    Finally a movie in Flint that doesnt involve Michael Moore!

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 3:32 p.m. CST

    Sounds like Rob Corddry's on his way to stardom

    by smackvein

    As for Will Arnett, I really hope he gets better roles

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Will Arnett will never get a better role than Gob Bluth

    by Garbageman33

    Have the people that keep casting him (poorly) even seen Arrested Development?

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 4:40 p.m. CST

    Viral Herbology


    Plants instructed to praise films based on their real experiences, rather than working from studio talking points. Pretty snifty. Sounds authentic but, overall, way too positive.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 7:23 p.m. CST

    Will ferrel=

    by supersize

    Fucking brilliant that's right brilliant and if you haven't seen Wiig's take on Dorothy you haven't really seen wiig

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 7:56 p.m. CST

    Anchorman rocked

    by Cruel_Kingdom

    So fuck the hate.

  • Sept. 22, 2007, 7:24 a.m. CST

    How can you not laugh when Ferrell screams.....


    "You are a fucking cocksucker!" Uh watch me. In fact I would be willing to bet my next three paychecks that won't make me laugh. But then again I'm older than 16 and can remember when comedies contained real talent like Don Knotts or Groucho Marx.

  • Sept. 22, 2007, 8:58 p.m. CST

    Arnett was funny on 30 Rock

    by theBigE

    And I hear his character is returning this season. Just a spin on the GOB character, but very funny still.