In the world of the comedy film, every dog has its day. If this weren’t true, we’d still be laughing at Chevy Chase, and Eddie Murphy would’ve never come out with “Norbit.”

The stars themselves are not so much to blame as is the scheming spirit of Hollywood, which finds it necessary to hash out as many like-minded movies as it can in the shortest amount of time possible to cash in on any and every comedic trend, all the while ignoring the fact that the joke isn’t funny anymore.

As much as it’s the fault of the money-grubbing institution that is American film, certain comedians are more than happy to whore themselves out for the cause, diluting any hint of credibility for the sake of the almighty dollar. The most notable of the bunch is probably Adam Sandler, whose elementary brand of humor has changed about as much as UR’s parking policies over the past decade, and he continues to bring in the dough.

All that being said, I’m starting to worry about Will Ferrell. Arguably the funniest man in movies as late as 2005, we may be witnessing the downfall of the man who made streaking cool again. Scene-stealing cameos and “Stranger Than Fiction” aside, his movies seem to be missing the spark that made “Anchorman” and “Old School” instant classics and are becoming easier and easier to peg as shallow attempts to make a couple bucks.

“Semi-Pro” may very well be Ferrell’s swan song. This last-ditch effort to cash in on Ferrell’s naked body and America’s love affair with comedies about sports ranks in the middle of the pack, somewhere between “Kicking and Screaming” and “Blades of Glory.”

After taking the world by storm with his hit single “Love Me Sexy,” afroed sex machine Jackie Moon (Ferrell) buys the American Basketball Association’s lowliest franchise, the Flint Michigan Tropics, and takes over as owner-player-coach.

More focused on the entertainment surrounding the game than the game itself, Moon is faced with a pickle when it’s announced that the ABA will be merging with the NBA and only four of the ABA’s franchises will make the cut.

When Moon convinces the commissioner (played by a humorless David Koechner) to take the four teams with the best record, the Tropics undergo a transformation that includes increasingly ludicrous promotional stunts to attract fans and a trade that brings former NBA star Ed Monix (played by a humorless Woody Harrelson) to the team for a washing machine.

Like any other sports movie, the team overcomes the odds and finds a way to win, culminating with the all-important showdown at film’s end. Shenanigans ensue.

The movie could have benefited from a narrower scope in the same way that “Talladega Nights” could have. There are at least three unnecessary characters that do nothing to advance the plot, let alone make us laugh, and there’s a side romance plot involving Harrelson’s character and his former trainer that had me shaking my head at how inconclusive and unnecessary it was.

On the plus side, Ferrell dishes out one-liners like assists (showing that he’s still a funny-ass dude even when his movies suck), Will Arnett and Andrew Daly provide some of the film’s funniest moments as the embittered TV announcers and Jackie Earle Haley steals every scene he’s in as the clueless stoner Dukes.

But it’s simply not enough. Like the dying league the film portrays, “Semi-Pro” appears to be only semi-fun. Here’s hoping that Ferrell can get out of his funk, do his best Bill Murray and remind us that he’s kind of a big deal.

Milbrand is a member of the class of 2008.



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