Necessary Roughness full movie review - A charming film -- but how about some REALITY???
Seeing `Necessary Roughness' makes one appreciate good sports films and how rare they are. Not, of course, because `Necessary Roughness' IS one of those rare films, but because it points out the glaring problems awaiting anyone attempting a film with a sports theme!
Actually this is an enjoyable little film. For someone tired and needing to relax and unwind, it is a good 100 minutes of entertainment. For anyone who stops to analyze what is on the screen, though ? especially any type of sports fan whatsoever, the credibility lasts about two minutes.
Of course, the premise is that fictitious Texas State University, the defending NCAA D-I national champion, has been hit with a titanic NCAA penalty for numerous infractions and has lost all football scholarships, coaches, returning players, etc. Former coach Ed `Straight Arrow' Gennero (Hector Elizondo) is lured back to coaching to try to put the pieces back together ? without cheating, as his predecessors had done. He brings with him long-time sidekick Coach Rig (Robert Loggia) as his defensive coordinator. They face a devilish dean (Larry Miller, playing virtually the same role he would do in `The Nutty Professor,' five years later) and empty stands.
There the credibility stops, so far as believable drama goes. Coach Rig immediately recruits 34-year-old farmer Paul Blake (Scott Bakula) as the Armadillos' quarterback. Rig had almost signed him for Penn State some 16 years earlier, but the boy had turned down the scholarship when his dad died, opting to take over the family farm instead. (Of course, as we see in the opening minutes of the film, he still takes time after a grueling day of work on the farm each evening, to fire a football with unlikely perfection at a practice dummy in the cornpatch.) Since he didn't ever PLAY college football, he has four years of eligibility left, right? Well ? um ?(I SAID `spoilers ahead,' right?) The only teensie little problem is that NCAA D-I athletes have (I believe) FIVE YEARS in which to play their four years. There ARE NO 34-year-old NCAA D-I athletes ? unless I am totally confused. Later, chemistry professor Andre Krimm (Sinbad), a one-time high school star and opponent of Blake's, also agrees to don the pads again and use that long-refrigerated `eligibility' of his.
The lack of credibility continues. Thanks to the dean's strong efforts to destroy the program (ludicrous to say the least, considering that the national championship the season before had undoubtedly put millions of dollars ? or hundreds of thousands, at least ? in the school's coffers), the squad drops to a mere 17 players before the season opener. Yet somehow those 17 ? including the two 30-plus dudes and several other real losers-manage to survive 10 weeks of top quality D-I football without injuries? AND, after losing 63-0 in the opener, manage to play (I'm going from memory, here.) top teams to scores of 42-6 and 32-12, I believe. Folks, no D-I football team today takes it easy on ANY creampuff! Everyone rolls up scores and pads statistics every chance they get. This bunch would have been losing by 120 points or more EVERYtime out!
Which brings me to my major point. This film would have had a LITTLE credibility, a little believability, had it been set in the NAIA, or perhaps a junior college or NCAA, D-III. MAYBE in the NAIA, 17 players off the street, with a 34-year-old quarterback could go 1-8-1 and pull one huge upset at the end. Maybe. And maybe a member of the women's soccer team (Kathy Ireland) could walk in, win the kicking job and boot a game-tying field goal in a monsoon. However, Hollywood apparently doesn't believe (and maybe with reason) that viewers would connect with a small college. For the movie-going audience to understand that this is college football, they believe, it has to be not only a D-I team, but the defending national champion, for viewers to follow. As it is, they make it very difficult for one who IS a sports fan to get through the impossible scenarios and enjoy what is basically a decent movie.
Elizando, Loggia, Bakula, and Harley Jane Kozak (playing Professor Suzanne Carter, Blake's romantic interest), none of whom I had even HEARD of, all turn in strong performances, as do many of the dysfunctional football players. Overall, it is an endearing movie, despite the implausible happenings and so-so action sequences. One of the highlights of the film is the hilarious Texas State play-by-play man (who I cannot find in the cast credits). In one sequence, when the other team charges in, blocking an Armadillo punt as soon as it leaves the punter's foot and swatting it several yards behind him, he proclaims smoothly `THAT one didn't have much hang time on it. I think they MAY have gotten a piece of that one!'
Once again, for those too tired to analyze or those who don't really follow college sports, you may be charmed by this film. But the sports geek who knows that Walter Payton is the all-time NAIA football scoring leader, NOT the NCAA scoring leader, will need group therapy by the fourth quarter.