It's never a strong opening when I have to verbalize that I enjoy Will Ferrell as an actor, because you figure the next thing coming isn't as supportive. Sadly, it's not: over the last few films, Ferrell has been taking on roles that are less and less challenging, instead going for the easy laugh and tired gags and hoping to cash in on his (and other cast members') star appeal.
Jackie is the owner, promoter, coach, and star player of the Flint (Michigan) Tropics of the American Basketball Association (ABA; the league was real, the team was not). In 1976, the ABA ended and merged with the NBA. The initial plan we see is for four teams to join the NBA, and the others to all shut down. Jackie rallies the owners to allow the four-rated teams join the NBA (versus just picking favorites).
This motivates Jackie to actually try to win a game or two, and trades the team's wash machine for Monix, a has-been from the NBA who's mostly warmed benches. After a rather horrible first game after the ABA decision, the team members ask Monix to coach the team, and he actually has them run drills and plays. Seemingly a step in the right direction.
Woody Harrelson has come along way since "Cheers," and Ferrell from the days of "Saturday Night Live." At time, though, the country hick and sight-gag antic beginnings of each seem to begin to ooze into these characters. Too bad -- they're far more talented than the script gives them room to demonstrate.
Writer Scot Armstrong has a decent list of films, though none of them are too much different than this latest product ("The Heartbreak Kid," "School for Scoundrels," "Old School," "Road Trip," etc). Director Kent Alterman hasn't worn that hat before, but has sat as Producer enough times to know his way around a storyline, though.
The frequent use of profanity damped the mood a bit as well. Not that I'm shy about such things -- I did work in a jail for a while -- but swearing just for the sake of having nothing else to say doesn't show particular skill in writing dialogue, in my modest view.
They are already showing previews of the next one, "Step Brothers," with John C. Reilly. I'd like to say it looks like a really dramatic force, a shining example of Ferrell's true talent... but I can't. It just looks like they're missing the third Stooge.
Between the few laughs and barf jokes, you may find some down time to rummage through this movie and find the lost Stooge to complete the set. Other films are out this weekend. This isn't the worst by a long shot, but it won't be branded the best, either...