Saturday, March 1, 2008

Semi Slow

I had 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 glitterati settle in at the Gold Dust Lounge.

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.

Michael offers his critique of Semi-Pro via a menacing glance.
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.

Post-screening scene at the Velvet Cantina.


  1. I couldn't help but think that the scenes with all those people celebrating in front of The Torch or the night shots of Saginaw St. w/lots of cars and activity is in such a depressingly stark contrast to the actual Flint of today. The fact that they had to go down to the State Fairgrounds Coliseum on Woodward to film over 90% of the movie didn't help, either.

  2. I'm predicting this movie is on DVD in less than a month.
    I agree that it was a complete disappointment.

  3. Sigh...not that my expectations were high, but i wanted to see a movie centered in Flint...I think i'll have to wait on a depressingly sad movie by an indie.

  4. Aaron, Jim and Matt,

    I agree. I wasn't expecting a classic. I would have settled for a really bad movie with tons of Flint footage.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at