I had such high hopes for Semi-Pro, and it wasn't simply because the pre-premiere festivities began at San Francisco's Gold Dust Lounge at 2:30 on a Friday afternoon with Traci, Meredith and Michael. The trailers for the movie are reasonably funny, and I figured I'd get to see plenty of shots of dear old Flint.
The prospects looked even rosier when we got free Semi-Pro headbands! (Retail value: $2. But it was a nice gesture by the Hollywood marketing machine, even if they weren't Flint Tropics colors.) Fueled by our visit to the aforementioned Gold Dust, we donned our headbands in a festive manner in the theater lobby, drawing disdainful looks from the local teenagers and blank stares from the ushers.
Alas, reality set in almost immediately after the movie began.
Not much humor, and not much Flint.
The scenes of the Capitol Theater are on the cutting room floor. There are a few brief panoramic shots of downtown, including a lame shot of the Flint River that prompted Traci to ask: "What's that culvert running through the middle of town?" The outside of The Torch makes an appearance, along with a few alleys and exterior shots. But if you want a hilarious movie that captures Flint, this ain't it. I was left wondering why they bothered to shoot any scenes in Flint at all. I get the feeling the Vehicle City was used primarily because it's a perfect fit for a movie about a depressing place that everyone wants to escape. Flint deserves better.
It's no surprise that critics aren't treating the film kindly.
An orgy of disco-era excess, it's also an interminable exercise in beating a dead horse.
— LA Times
Will Ferrell's latest comedy splits time between being a goofy basketball movie and...a whole bunch of other stuff, none of it particularly interesting.
— Arizona Republic
Aside from Kicking & Screaming, this is probably Ferrell's weakest comedy to date.
— Chicago Reader
My friend Michael, who is very tall and not to be trifled with, seemed almost angry after the screening. And he seemed to blame me for organizing the entire outing.
Luckily for me, everyone's disgruntlement over the movie was worked out calmly and rationally over margaritas at the Velvet Cantina. Now if we'd just had a Chuck E. Cheese-style brawl in the theater lobby to settle our differences, the evening could have ended on a very Flint-like note.