“Necessary Roughness” (citywide) offers Scott Bakula, who made his feature film debut last year in “Sibling Rivalry,” a delightful starring role as a 34-year-old farmer lured back to college to play football.
Bakula, who has made his mark as time-traveling scientist Sam Beckett in TV’s critically acclaimed “Quantum Leap,” has a laid-back quality that makes him a welcome, easy-to-take presence on the big screen.
The film itself is a genial, slight, entirely predictable football comedy, but it serves Bakula well. Director Stan Dragoti goes along with writers Rick Natkin and David Fuller’s modest intentions and doesn’t try to inflate the material with false significance or (for the most part) overly exaggerated comedy situations.
Scandal has forced Texas State to get rid of its entire football team and coaching staff. A hard-nosed, straight-arrow Hector Elizondo has been hired, and he in turn brings in as his assistant his gruff old pal Robert Loggia. Loggia recalls a kid who was a phenomenal high school football star who threw away a college scholarship to take over the family farm when his father died suddenly. In short order, Bakula is persuaded to make a comeback after a 16-year absence.
There’s wry humor in Bakula’s generation gap predicament, both on and off the field, and the awkwardness that develops with his no-nonsense journalism prof (Harley Jane Kozak) when mutual attraction sets in. There’s the usual locker room pep talks and camaraderie as the team assembles, which includes one of the college’s astronomy professors (Sinbad) and even a woman (Kathy Ireland). Hovering over the scene constantly is the college’s dean (Larry Miller, very funny), a smarmy type eager to see the game gone from the campus for all time.
What is most striking about the film has nothing at all to do with football: “Necessary Roughness” (rated PG for language, adult situations) suggests, no doubt unintentionally, that being single has become so commonplace in our society that explanations are no longer needed. We never know whether Elizondo and Loggia have--or had--wives and children or whether Bakula or Kozak have ever been married. But we do wonder who’s running Bakula’s farm in his absence and who’s paying for his belated education.
Scott Bakula: Paul Blake
Hector Elizondo: Coach Gennero
Robert Loggia: Coach Riggendorff
Harley Jane Kozak: Suzanne Carter
Sinbad: Andre Krimm
A Paramount Pictures presentation. Director Stan Dragoti. Producers Mace Neufeld, Robert Rehme. Executive producer Howard Koch Jr. Screenplay by Rick Natkin & David Fuller. Cinematographer Peter Stein. Editors John Wright, Steve Mirkovich. Costumes Dan Moore. Music Bill Conti. Production design Paul Peters. Set decorator Lynn Wolverton Parker. Sound Thomas Nelson. Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes.
MPAA-rated PG (for language, adult situations).