When it comes to comedy, Will Ferrell is a Jeckyl & Hyde. When he's "on," he can be hilarious, but when he's off, he's like a drunk at a bar yelling loud, unfunny jokes at his equally inebriated buddies. And, while those guys might laugh at him, they're the only ones. Unfortunately, for Semi-Pro, Ferrell is that guy at the bar. This movie struggles for laughs, in part because the writing is lazy with too much of the humor being obvious and easily telegraphed, and in part because Semi-Pro is obsessed with being a sports film rather than merely parodying one. Admittedly, both approaches have been done so often that it's difficult to find a fresh angle, but there would seem to be more unplowed territor in the latter category than the former. Nevertheless, that's not where first-time director Kent Alterman and screenwriter Scot Armstrong take this movie. Instead of a satire, they give us a tired, tedious victory-for-the-underdog story, and the unevenness of Ferrell's comedy makes it less appealing.
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