From the Archive: Necessary Roughness

I have very little to add to this beyond the staple amazement at some of the remarkably forgettable films we needed to sit through in the name of creating a weekly radio show. I do also find it interesting that I listed so many cast members without noting the presence of Kathy Ireland, the frequently bikini-clad supermodel whose presence in a co-starring role was used a major selling point for the film. It appears this was the final credit of director Stan Dragoti. Though he had an early surprise hit with Mr. Mom, it’s surprising that his career didn’t come to a halt six years earlier with the disastrous release of The Man with One Red Shoe.

If there’s one performer in the new football comedy NECESSARY ROUGHNESS who exemplifies the film’s problems, it is Rob Schneider. Schneider has gained notoriety in the past year for for one of the characters he performs on “Saturday Night Live”…a perpetually upbeat office worker who greets his fellow employees with endless variations on their names every time they try to use the copy machine. Occasionally the sports announcer character he plays in NECESSARY ROUGHNESS picks up the same habit, saying, “Fumble-eena…Fumble-rama.” The chief difference is that when Schneider does this on “Saturday Night Live,” he’s bobbing his head with an enormous grin on his face and seems absolutely delighted with what’s going on. But in NECESSARY ROUGHNESS, his eyes are glazed over, the words come slowly, and he seems ready to nod off. Like every other aspect of the film, Schneider’s performance is dulled by intense tedium.

Paramount Pictures would like you to believe NECESSARY ROUGHNESS is a wacky comedy in the vein of MAJOR LEAGUE, but don’t be fooled. Instead, it is a fairly standard sports story that’s boring and predictable, filled with cliches from start to finish. The crazy comedy seems to be inserted as almost an afterthought. In the film, Scott Bakula plays a thirty-four year old farmer who is recruited to play quarterback for a Texan university and winds up leading a group of misfits to triumph. He finds camaraderie with teammates played by Jason Bateman and Sinbad, romance with a young professor played by Harley Jane Kozak, and animosity from an education-minded dean played by Larry Miller. The only actor with enough skill to rise above the material is Hector Elizondo as the team’s “straight arrow” coach, and even he barely makes an impression.

There’s not much going on in NECESSARY ROUGHNESS that hasn’t been done before…several times. In fact, sitting through the film is like watching a football game that already seen thousands of times.

1 and 1/2 stars (out of four).

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