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'Semi-Pro' semi-funny, but it beats 'Spartans'

June 01, 2008|Noel Murray


New Line, $26.98/$34.98; Blu-ray, $39.98

The short-lived American Basketball Assn. gets the "Slap Shot" treatment in this half-hearted effort by the Will Ferrell comedy combine. Although "Semi-Pro" has an enjoyably shaggy '70s vibe -- with Ferrell playing the owner-coach-star of a failing ABA franchise -- the tone is all over the map and veers into "Anchorman"/"Dodgeball"-style absurdity when a more straightforward, "Major League"-like approach would've worked better. The "Let's Get Sweaty" DVD edition ups the raunch and adds some improv footage that didn't make the final cut, but the extras mainly prove that this movie needed a tighter script, not more comedians making up their own jokes.

Boarding Gate

Magnolia, $26.98

In the first half of "Boarding Gate, "a stylish-yet-dreary tale of intrigue and kinky sex-play from offbeat French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, Michael Madsen plays a shady venture capitalist living through a rough breakup with his girlfriend/dominatrix. In the second half, that girlfriend (played by Asia Argento) heads to Hong Kong and gets more deeply enmeshed in her ex's illicit business. The film alternates between turgid and hyperbolic, but Assayas makes it all beguilingly arty and carries that mood through the DVD's two oblique featurettes.

Meet the Spartans

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.98

What is there to say about a movie that begins with a baby Shrek vomiting on a be-toga-ed holy man, and goes downhill from there? The "Scary Movie"/"Epic Movie"/"Date Movie" writer-director team of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer appears to have run out of ideas with this beat-for-beat parody of "300," which is peppered with references to -- although no real jokes about -- other recent blockbuster hits and pop-culture phenomena. Even the DVD features are unremarkable.

Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights

New Line, $28.98

People looking to laugh probably ought to steer clear of this documentary about Vaughn's 2005 comedy tour, which features bland stand-ups Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst and Sebastian Maniscalco. And yet, while the video-shot doc looks grubby and the backstage drama never builds any momentum, there's still something cumulatively moving about these guys' common struggle to succeed at a dying art form. The DVD adds two commentary tracks and heaps of bonus footage that contribute to the general feeling of good will.

And . . .

"Diva" (Lionsgate Meridian, $26.98); "Get Smart (1995): The Complete Series" (Sony, $19.95); "Rescue Me: The Complete Fourth Season" (Sony, $49.95); "Weeds: Season 3" (Lionsgate, $39.98; Blu-Ray, $39.97)


-- Noel Murray

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