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SEMI-PRO ($40) is a mildly amusing sports comedy featuring Will Ferrell and Woody Harrelson, but the humor misses more baskets than it actually sinks, and ultimately, can’t shine the skates of Ferrell’s own BLADES OF GLORY. Heck, SEMI-PRO even lacks the bowling balls of Harrelson’s own comic masterwork KINGPIN. Set in the 1970’s, SEMI-PRO plays the clichés of that decade, as well as those of the sports movie underdog for laughs. With SEMI-PRO, Ferrell steps into the basketball shoes Jackie Moon, who parlayed his one-hit wonder song Love Me Sexy into the ownership of an American Basketball Association team- the Flint Michigan Tropics. As you might expect, the Tropics have one of the worst records in the league and Jackie has to resort to oddball promotions to fill seats in the stadium.

With a proposed merger between the ABA and the NBA, Jackie sees the possibility of moving his franchise into the mainstream. But, as it turns, the NBA is only interested in taking on a limited number of ABA teams… and the Tropics aren’t on the short list. When the team’s standing becomes part of the equation of which teams will get to go to the NBA, Jackie decides to make some changes to help whip the Tropics into shape. The first thing Jackie does is to bring an aging former NBA player named Monix (Woody Harrelson) on board, and Monix helps transform the Tropics from a group of individuals, into a team. The cast of SEMI-PRO also includes André Benjamin, DeRay Davis, Maura Tierney, Andrew Daly, Will Arnett, Andy Richter, David Koechner, Rob Corddry, Matt Walsh and Jackie Earle Haley.

New Line Home Entertainment has made SEMI-PRO available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. As expected, New Line gets nothing but net every time with their 1080p presentation of the film. This is a truly fine looking comedy, image sharpness and detail score very highly. All the truly fine detail one expects in the close-ups is there, plus the longer shots consistently hold their own. Colors are strongly rendered, with that funky seventies palette coming across beautifully. In addition, the flesh tones are quite appealing. Both the blacks and whites are on the money, while the levels of contrast and shadow are really quite fine. This being a new film, there are no flaws in the original elements. There is very little perceivable grain. So, is SEMI-PRO a demo disc? No, but it is certainly a crowd pleaser.

SEMI-PRO is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For the most part, SEMI-PRO features a fairly standard comedy mix, but there are livelier, game based moments, when the outlying channels engage effectively and sound effects actively pan around the soundstage. Fidelity is quite strong and the musical component of the track benefits the most. The bottom end of the track is quite full, but not to an exaggerated degree. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one features both the standard theatrical edition and unrated edition of the film. On disc two is where one will find the remaining supplemental programming. Featurettes include: A Short Story Of The ABA (six minutes, self explanatory), Recreating The ABA (twelve minutes, sets, costumes, locations), Love Me Sexy: The Story Behind The One Hit Wonder (five minutes, bringing the song together), Four Days In Flint (five minutes, on location), Flint Tropics Hot Talk (two minutes, parody interview piece) and The Man Behind Semi-Pro (twenty four minutes, the writer and his script). Some Improvs, plus Deleted And Alternate Scenes, as well as a Music Video for Love Me Sexy and the Super Agility Trainer (a Blu-ray exclusive game) close out the supplements.

As I stated above, SEMI-PRO is mildly amusing, but the film misses the hoop more times than it sinks a basket. New Line’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds great, so if you want to check out the film, Blu-ray is the way to go.



Semi-Pro (Two-Disc Unrated "Let's Get Sweaty" Edition) [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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