Every four years February has a twenty-ninth day, giving it the distinction of being called a “leap year.” Leap Weekend 2008 started off with pure energy for me.
But First: In some Atlanta Falcons news, Chris Redman will return as a quarterback in the fall. Running back Michael Turner will know just how frustrating construction on Peachtree Road/Street can be in the 2008 season. Tight end Ben Hartsock will feel the pain of off-the-chart-pollen-count (if he’s allergic). Cornerback Von Hutchins will come to love the infrequency with which Atlanta drivers put on a turn signal–especially when they need to put them on…say in parking lots.
Click their names to read the articles.
Now back to Leap Year.
I watched the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre on Friday at the Fox Theatre. I’ve wanted to see them perform for so long and I finally did. They put many dancers I’ve seen to shame. Their classical ballet movements may not be as sharp or polished as the principal dancers of certain companies, but they move with such emotion and emit a kind of energy that is truly astounding. Moreover, some of the choreography of group numbers (in terms of dance steps and formations) I had never seen before–it was an awesome way to spend Leap Day.
On Saturday, I watched Semi-Pro (Kent Alterman, 2008).
My initial reaction after watching this film was, “Well, that was a flatbread kneaded with lopsided helpings of crude humor and a sports inspirational parody.” Semi-Pro documents Flint Tropics owner-coach-power forward Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell) and his quest to take his team to the top of the ABA League (American Basketball Association) and, ultimately, merge with the NBA. In order to improve their skills, Jackie hires NBA wallflower Monix (Woody Harrelson) to play with the guys.
If Semi-Pro is primarily a vehicle for Will Ferrellian antics, then the film accomplishes this feat decently. I haven’t seen his other sports movies (Talladega Nights, Kicking & Screaming, Blades of Glory), so I don’t know if the partially integrated gags and jokes were no different from his other films. I wasn’t keen on the ostensible randomness of certain characters (the guy who free throws on Free Corndog Night) and scenes (“jive turkey” and quasi-roulette featuring Tim Meadows). This romance storyline with Woody Harrelson and Maura Tierney was somewhat arbitrary too.
After thinking about it for a day, though, I came to appreciate the loose ends and non-conformity to the standard sports film. The criticisms, and sometimes the sheer idiocy, of professional sports are subtly presented. They are first and foremost examples of Will Ferrell behaving like a “a well-meaning oaf afflicted by neurosis and some affliction that causes him to scream a lot” (as Peter Vonder Haar puts it). The film is called “Semi-Pro;” “semi” meaning not complete, half, not whole. Remove all the sports scenes and sequences (ten games and two to three practices; actual game-play took up only about ten to fifteen minutes of the ninety minute film), and you’d have fodder for a jab at the 70s.
Observations & Miscellania:
1. Product placement and Branding: Fondue, Pong, Converse.
2. Once I got over the non-gestalt aspect of the film’s narrative components, I still couldn’t deal with the utter lack of sympathy for the characters. Even Clarence “Coffee” Black (Andre Benjamin), who is depicted as having more than one thought or emotion and who possesses two-dimensional ambition (as opposed to one-dimensional, flat), can’t secure my support. Technically, I could say that “I just don’t care” about this film.
3. The opening newspaper, still photo montage sequence establishes that Jackie Moon’s hit song “Love Me Sexy” made him a shipload of money, enabling him to purchase and then play for the Flint Tropics.
4. My appreciation for the film’s lopsided flatbread qualities started after I thought about the final game in the film, where Jackie Moon’s team vying to win the Megabowl–a trophy he concocted just to get people to come to the stadium. It got me thinking about corporate sponsors and the creation of all sorts of awards and trophies given out just so there can be another game.
For more Semi-Pro pictures, click here.
On Sunday, I watched The Other Boleyn Girl (Justin Chadwick, 2008). I went into the film with zero expectations–I didn’t even know if the book on which the film is based was historical fiction or not. Thus, I enjoyed it more than I thought; it wasn’t a waste of time.
Eric Bana, who plays King Henry VIII, probably only had ten pages of lines. He spent most of the film striding around and looking intently offscreen or into the camera. Matt Sorrento’s review at Film Threat is hilarious–even though I don’t necessarily agree with what the review argues, it’s a better read than the film is a good watch.