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Ferrell and cast hope to slam dunk with ‘Semi Pro’
What has painfully small shorts, an Afro, and blue, white and orange knee high socks?
That would be Will Ferrell in his newly released film “Semi-Pro.”
Released last Friday, Feb. 29 and directed by Kent Alterman (“Talladega Nights”), the film features a highly talented (and hysterical) cast including Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Will Arnett, Andre Benjamin and Maura Tierney.
“We had been talking about a movie involving the ABA (American Basketball Association) for about five or six years,” Ferrell said as Alterman nodded in agreement.
The film centers around the fictitious Flint Michigan Tropics, an underdog basketball team that has to fight for their survival in the now inoperative ABA. “Semi-Pro” proved itself to be a laugh out loud comedy which features Ferrell’s beloved and trademark stared humor.
His character, Jackie Moon, is a “one hit wonder” disco singer who used his profits from his hit single to buy, own, coach and play on the disastrous team, The Tropics. The movie and soundtrack features his hit song “Love Me Sexy,” where he actually performs the song himself.
On how he prepared to portray a disco star, Ferrell said with a smirk, “I went to funk camp. It was hosted by Isaac Hayes in Vermont.” He continued, “It was a creepy camp but nothing bad happened,” as he fidgeted with the zipper on his navy and red velour ABA jumpsuit.
In regards to his role as basketball star and pop star, Ferrell playfully stated, “I’m a pretty gifted athlete, and I always wanted to do a basketball movie. But this was brand new. I’ve never been a 70s pop singer before.”
His good natured personality and talent shone through during both the film, and in filming. “I showed up every day on the set and it was funny as hell to watch them go at it,” Benjamin (Andre 3000 of Outkast) said as he reflected on his experience working on the movie, as he is most noted for his career in hip-hop. He continued, “but these guys are really, really, really professional when the camera’s not on.”
Harrelson also added what it was like working with such “funny guys.” He matter-of-factly looked at Ferrell as he stated he worked with “arguably the funniest man in the world,” and paused to say, “Will Arnett.”
An irony in the film is that the Tropics play in what director Alterman refers to as an underdog town.
“It was set in Flint with much affection; it’s the classic American underdog town.” He also commented while chuckling, “The Tropics play in the most bitterly cold town.”
As the movie was no doubt a favor for the small town of Flint, the cast then discussed what place they would most like to visit worldwide. While Ferrell replied with “Galapagos” because he wanted to “see the reptiles and whatever else lives there”, the witty and humorous Arnett (“Arrested Development,” “Blades of Glory”) chimed in, “Cyprus. I want to see the Greeks and Turks work it out.”
Seemingly quiet and reserved Maura Tierney (“E.R.” and “Liar Liar”) was asked how a feminine gal like herself dealt with the superfluous daily dosage of testosterone on set. Alterman butted in and said in good humor, “Oh she was so whiney.” The guys all laughed; as she stated how much fun she had working with the men.
It is evident that together they form a funny, talented and priceless cast that collectively created a new and fresh comedy. “Semi-Pro” successfully evokes the underdog spirit in us all, as well as side-splitting cramps from laughter. While it may leave the audience wondering what else could Ferrell possibly have up his sleeve next, it certainly will also leave them wanting more.