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Film / Semi-Pro

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A 2008 sports-comedy, starring Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, and André Benjamin.

Jackie Moon, a One-Hit Wonder singer during the mid 1970s, is the owner/coach/player of the ABA's floundering Flint Tropics. Further problems arise, when the NBA and ABA announce a merger. The NBA want four teams from the ABA and the Tropics is not among them. With his team in danger of being dissolved, Jackie embarks on a publicity spree, to get into the playoffs, and save the Tropics.

Tropes featured in this film.

  • The Alcoholic: Lou Redwood. Also Ed Monix, apparently — during the infamous Jive Turkey scene, he's mentioned as hardly ever being sober. This seems to be something of an Informed Flaw as Monix seems completely professional during games, and while he's found at a bar a few times in the film, he seems more pensive than inebriated. It's possible Monix's problem used to be worse and he's cleaning up a bit as part of his Character Development.
  • Anachronism Stew: In one scene, the Tropics are playing against the Anaheim Amigos. In reality, the Amigos had relocated to Los Angeles and became the Stars in 1968. The name might have been used simply because it's funnier.
  • Artifact Title: Presumably the Flint Tropics started out in Florida before relocating to Michigannote .
  • Artistic License – Sports: Yeah, there's no way in hell a player can just decide to play for the other team in the middle of a game because he feels like it, like Coffee Black does. Fun moment, though.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Dewie the bear. "There will be no refunds! Your refund will be escaping this deathtrap with your life!" Dewie reappears at the very end when he mauls the Commissioner. "Everybody panic! It's just like the Titanic, but it's full of bears!"
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Tropics don't get accepted into the NBA for business reasons. However, they still finish fourth and take satisfaction in what they accomplished; Withers gets to play in the league with the Spurs; and Jackie gets a marketing job with the league's front office.
  • Brick Joke: Dewie the Bear, who gets out of the cage during his "fight" with Jackie. He randomly attacks Bobby while he's out for a walk later in the movie, then attacks the ABA commissioner out of nowhere right at the end of the film, making it a Running Gag too.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Jackie isn't particularly talented as either a player or a coach, but he is quite savvy in marketing.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Monix's career is on borrowed time thanks to a chronic knee injury, and is likely to retire at the end of the season.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Kyle attempts to when he walks in on Monix and Lynn making out on the sofa, only to be stopped when Lynn spots him.
  • Chromosome Casting: There are few speaking roles for women in the film, with most female representation consisting of half-dressed "ball girls." Exceptions include Lynn in the film's obligatory Token Romance and Jackie's mother.
  • Dark Reprise: Jackie earned all his money that he bought the Tropics with using royalties from his song "Love Me Sexy." He later goes through a Heroic BSoD of sorts and sings a variation of that song while lying in a dumpster.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: While he suggests it primarily out of self-interest (he originally believed his team would be part of the NBA merger) and arrogance, Jackie's proposal that the "best four teams should go" rather than the ones who are the most marketable or are largely successful already is objectively a more fair way to determine which teams will avoid being dissolved while the season isn't over yet.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Monix is stunned when he sees Moon shoot his free-throws "Granny-style" during the last game against the Spurs, suggesting that Monix has somehow gone the entire season — let alone his entire career — without seeing Moon ever shoot a free throw before.
  • I Have Many Names: Clarence Withers has 4 nicknames. As follows: "Jumping" Johnny Johnson, Sugar Dunkerton, Downtown "Funky Stuff" Malone, and Coffee Black.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: At his lowest point, Jackie confesses that his mother wrote "Love Me Sexy" as a joke on a random napkin a few weeks before she died. And that his entire fledgling career as a musician and athlete was built on a song of hers that he took credit for, and it's been eating him up inside for years.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: When Jackie sees his mother.
  • Foreshadowing: Jackie introduces Monix as an "old warrior," leading to Clarence cracking a joke about him just being old. Jackie wasn't lying, though; despite his knee and age, Monix fights like an animal during the brawl with the Amigos.
  • Guyliner: Jackie has the guys wear eyeliner during a Game Of The Week so they'll look better on television. It works briefly to confuse their opponents, but the inevitable sweating leads to the make-up getting into their eyes and causing considerable pain.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Cornelius seems amused by the fact that he was hit by a stray bullet while his friends were playing around with a gun they thought was unloaded.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Jackie uses some rather modern bombastic theatrics and stunts reminiscent of modern NBA halftime shows and marketing ploys to promote his team. They confuse his audiences more than anything.
  • Jaded Washout: Color commentator Lou Redwood, a former player who "still dreams of glory" and considers suiting up again. His normally good-natured broadcast partner Dick Pepperfield mocks him for this, suggesting that Lou's prime is long gone. Redwood seems to spend most of his time on-air drinking, casually dropping obscenities and awaiting the next inevitable brawl. Monix applies as well, as even though he's still playing ball, he has gone from being on the NBA world champion Celtics to being traded to the Tropics for a literal washing machine. Monix has found a much healthier outlook by the film's end, having patched up most of his personal life and rediscovering his love for basketball.
  • Jive Turkey: Turns out calling some a "Jive Turkey" is a very rude insult among Jackie's circle. So much so, Jackie tries claiming Cornelius called Lou a cocksucker instead.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: While playing poker, after the Jive Turkey incident, Lou pretends to threaten Cornelius with a gun as a prank, and says it's not loaded. Everyone at the poker table takes turns pointing the gun and pulling the trigger at each other. Predictably, the gun does have one round left; the bullet ricochets around the room and hits Cornelius's arm (it's in a cast). It's still played for laughs even though his arm is bleeding through the cast.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Ain't no rule says you can't play drunk. Well, there is a rule, but they can't enforce it. ("Remember those 30 free throws I did in Minnesota last year?" "Yeah?" "I don't.")
    • When they first use the alley-oop, the ref rules it a violation, although the protagonists are ready and throw the rule book at him. The ref is forced to allow it.
  • Love Freak: Jackie Moon. His motto for the Tropics is "everybody love everybody," to mixed results, and he wears a ring that says "LOVE" on it. Any sort of disharmony clearly makes him upset.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Cornelius gets shot in the arm (which had already been broken). He, along with everybody else, just laughs it off.
  • Never Trust a Title: The ABA was a Professional league, not semi-pro.
  • One-Hit Wonder: In-Universe: Jackie's disco hit "Love Me Sexy."
  • Only Sane Man: Monix, who quickly realizes he's the only guy on the team who seems to care about designing and running plays, hustling on defense and actually following the score of the game. Moon even calls him a "bummer" for bringing these matters up. The Tropics end up rallying behind Monix, however, as they realize they'll actually need to play real basketball to save the team and keep their jobs.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: While Jackie and the referee are arguing and the referee, who also happens to be a priest, implies he believes that Jackie's mom went to hell when she died. Jackie goes into Stunned Silence and walks away, along with several others including the announcer who declares he's leaving Father Pat's congregation in disgust. Jackie did, however, start the argument by spewing vulgarities and death threats at Father Pat.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: But of course; it's a sports comedy after all. The Tropics start the film at the bottom of the standings due to a combination of poor (or non-existent) coaching and lack of confidence. It turns out they're actually a pretty damn good basketball team after all once they get a proper coach.
  • Russian Bear: Redwood refers to Vakidis as one during the brawl, as he's cleaning house thanks to being a Husky Russkie. Vakidis is actually Lithuanian, but Lithuania wouldn't declare independence from the Soviet Union for another 15 years or so.
  • Shipper on Deck: Monix and his ex-girlfriend Lynn have one in the form of Monix superfan Kyle—who, funnily enough, is also Lynn's current boyfriend.
  • Skewed Priorities: When Jackie is in the ring with a bear and the bear is all over him like a cheap suit, he implores, “Watch my hair! The only thing I care about is my hair!”
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • Jackie Moon clearly thinks quite highly of himself, despite the fact that he's coasting on the fame of a single hit song that he stole from his own mother and owning a rather bad basketball team with few fans.
    • Clarence Withers is genuinely talented, but he is more concerned about looking cool and branding himself than actually playing effective team basketball. He (alongside Jackie) gets a strong enough dose of Break the Haughty to get him to come around.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Two of them, actually, both concerning the alley-oop. Father Pat calls it a foul largely out of befuddlement. Most films would probably have Pat relent simply because it's a cool play or because of a plea from the desperate Tropics, but instead it simply comes down to Monix patiently explaining how the alley-oop violates no official rules. Father Pat can't find any hole in his reasoning and allows the play accordingly. And while the alley-oop gets the Tropics back in the game, it doesn't bring them the win as the Spurs eventually adjust their defense to stop it like any competent team would.
  • Teeny Weenie: Twiggy Munson, hence his nickname. There's a scene in the film where he has two pretty girls consoling him, so it doesn't seem to be hurting his love life that badly.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Even after Monix's training, Jackie's not a particularly good basketball player, but he excels at "granny style" free throws.
  • Training from Hell: After taking over as coach, Monix forces the Tropics to run the same play again and again relentlessly so that they never forget it, and says they won't stop until they puke. And he means it, quite literally.
  • Wastebasket Ball: Ed Monix misses the wastebasket while being introduced as the team's new captain.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Even after everything the Tropics do to make it to fourth place the NBA refuses to take them as one of the merger teams because Flint is too small a media market to host a pro team.