What happened
Will Ferrell’s basketball comedy Semi-Pro took the number one spot at the box office during its opening weekend, but earned only $15.3 million—much less than was expected. Among Ferrell’s recent sports spoof movies, last year’s Blades of Glory took in $33 million in its debut weekend, and 2006’s Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby opened at $47 million. (AP)

What the commentators said
This was “among Ferrell’s poorest debuts ever as a lead actor,” said Joshua Rich in Entertainment Weekly. “Only the dramedy Stranger Than Fiction ($13.4 mil) and the actor’s first major film, A Night at the Roxbury ($9.6 mil), opened worse.” The R-rating probably had a lot to do with it—only “41 percent of the movie’s viewers were under the age of 25.”

Or maybe it’s because “Ferrell often seems to be in his own private universe in his movies,” said Peter Rainer in The Christian Science Monitor. “Has any actor ever made less eye-contact with his co-stars?” Not to mention the fact that he essentially keeps playing the same role over and over again. We may “never know how much he’s capable of—how many different ways he can make us laugh—unless he shows a bit more ambition. He’s an NBA talent making ABA movies.”

Semi-Pro is the fourth Ferrell flick in three years to center on the world of sports,” said Shawn Adler in MTV.com, so he just “might have reached the saturation point.” As much as I hate to say it, “the era of the stupid, oblivious, overconfident man-child” may be over.

“Let’s hope not,” said Ross Douthat in Atlantic.com’s blog The Current. “Movies like Talladega Nights and Anchorman, Semi-Pro and Blades of Glory are essentially long-form Saturday Night Live sketches—shaggy and improvisational, often hilarious but just as often hit-and-miss. But that’s precisely the kind of comedy Will Ferrell was born to do.” He doesn’t need to branch out: “I’d rather watch a thousand Semi-Pros than see Ferrell end up like Robin Williams.”