Today’s installment of 73 Sports Movies in 73 Days is the 1991 football comedy Necessary Roughness, which I have long considered to be one of my favorite sports movies. Admittedly, I haven’t watched it in at least 10 years, so it’s one of those films that I was really nervous to watch again, out of fear that an old favorite would end up becoming a current dud. Especially because Rob Schneider is involved. But these are the kinds of things that I just have to brave through in order to continue this exercise in nostalgia.
Additionally, I just want to say before we get into the foot… balls that I am very upset with USA for naming a show Necessary Roughness. One of the big problems that popular culture faces today is repetition and, much more importantly, the damage that does to the legacy of art. In this case, there are people out there who believe that Necessary Roughness is just some show that stars some lady and the incredibly handsome John Stamos, and not a football comedy that gave us Kathy Ireland in athletic shorts.
Stop destroying our classics, USA. Just kidding, I love most of your shows. But end Psych already. That show needs to be put out of its misery. Other than that, let’s watch Scott Bakula and Sinbad relive their glory days.
That is the classic movie trailer right there.
The Tragic Tale Of The Texas State University Armadillos
According to Chris Berman and his on-air college football counterpart, Ed “Straight Arrow” Gennero, the Armadillos were the “greatest college football team in history,” until they were busted for all kinds of violations that were caught on camera, because people were so stupid when they committed crimes back in the late 80s and early 90s that they didn’t notice a guy standing there with a giant camera. Like this guy with one of Eddie Griffin’s Def Comedy Jam hats, as he paid off this player:
Seriously, look at that hat! I bet he has tenants in there.
Gennero knows a thing or two about dirty programs, as he ran one of the cleanest ships in NCAA history, having booted five All-Americans off his team one time. I believe that Urban Meyer referred to this part of the film as “absolute horse sh*t.” I also believe that Gennero is working for ESPN in the beginning of the film because no school wants a coach that doesn’t cheat. Either way, he’s the man that Senator Fred Thompson wants for the job of rebuilding the TSU program, even though the Armadillos have no scholarships and will have to build a roster with plain, old students.
The result is a hodge podge of dipshits and f*ckups that reset the standard for sports movies, as far as the “cast of zany characters” goes at least. Hell, for as much as I unapologetically love The Replacements, its whole core is just a complete knockoff of Necessary Roughness, which is, in itself, a knockoff of Slap Shot (next week, probably).
The Quarterback Competition
Originally, Coach Gennero (which I pronounce Gen-er-OOOO, like Larry Miller does in the movie) only had Papke as his QB and that sucked because Papke sucked. But Gennero’s co-coach and defensive coordinator, Wally Rig (ROBERT LOGGIA*), had another idea – Paul Blake. A former high school star that Rig recruited for Penn State (imagine the jokes we could have had today), Blake is a good, old Texas farmhand ever since his dad died, so he had no interest in college football. That is, until now, because this is only a 1 hour and 47 minute movie, and we can’t sacrifice precious time for plot.
Much more importantly, Scott Bakula is supposed to be 34-years old in this movie. Surprisingly, Bakula was 36-years old when he played Blake, but he’s also a guy who has never, ever looked young. Bakula at 36 looks the same as Bakula at 58. At the same time, Bakula plays a 34-year old like he’s geriatric, with his bones aching after every practice to the point that he can’t even stand up without looking like he’s starring in an Icy Hot ad. As an out-of-shape 34-year old, I take offense to this, because while I do indeed grunt and groan every time I get out of bed, I disagree with the idea that I couldn’t avoid it by exercising. It’s a shame that I’ll never actually attempt that to disprove this theory.
Blake and Coach Gennero don’t see eye-to-eye early on because early in the first game of the season they have a pissing match over offensive playcalling. Basically, Gennero practices the George O’Leary philosophy of calling the same running play over and over when you don’t trust your offense, but Blake is the original Sex Cannon and just wants to throw it deep. Eventually, they get on the same page, but only after Gennero sends poor Papke to his death.
*I normally loathe all things Family Guy, but the one bit that I’ve always loved is the ROBERT LOGGIA routine.
The Offensive Line
Blake has the privilege of rooming with his center, Manu Mana the Slender, who is from Samoa, or the “Big Island” as he points out. While I was first concerned with how he managed to pack so much island paraphernalia to decorate his dorm room with, I started wondering what it would be like to share a room with a man that big. Specifically, would I even bother using the same bathroom or would I just assume that the toilet would be clogged 24/7?
The Wide Receiver Corps
Blake has the displeasure of throwing to several jerkwads who would probably still be considered the No. 1 options for the Jacksonville Jaguars, including Featherstone, McKenzie and Charlie Banks. Back to that point about The Replacements, Featherstone was Clifford Franklin before Orlando Jones even knew how to bug his eyes.
McKenzie was played by Louis Mandylor, who was the brother of Costas Mandylor. Together, they were supposed to be stars. Instead, one of them played a guy who looked like Joey on Friends. I don’t know which one, because I don’t care.
Also, there’s the rodeo cowboy, Wyatt, who I think plays tight end. There are only 17 players on this Armadillos team, so I assume they all play a little of something. Except Blake, who’s too big of a coward to play anything but QB.
The White Running Back
Thanks to his father’s huge donations to the university, Jarvis Edison (Jason Bateman) takes on the role of the starting RB. He thinks he has the moves, because he’s rich and girls seem to like him, but he’s just another tackling dummy. What would have been interesting here would be if he had been a werewolf in this movie like he was in Teen Wolf 2. I wonder if Coach Gennero would have viewed that as cheating.
I expect more answers out of Hollywood.
The Defensive Talent
I don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of a 34-year old playing QB, because Blake has at least been practicing on the farm every day. But to ask Andre Krimm (Sinbad) to come out of the classroom after so many years of not playing to fill holes at both offensive and defensive line is simply unfair. If this hadn’t been a work of fiction, Krimm would have blown his hip out on the first play.
The one negative thing that has always stuck with me in regard to this movie was the way Sinbad said, “Parrrrrtaaaaaaay.” I don’t care that the writers wanted to include some witty slang as much as I care that it became a catchphrase for white parents everywhere, as they’d say, “Don’t you kids get too crazy at your birthday parrrrrtaaaaaay!” And then they’d laugh and our pants would wedgie us by themselves.
Lining up on D with Krimm are also the Sarge and Samurai, the latter of which commits various levels of felony assault under the poor excuse that it’s “playing defense.” And coach Rig excuses it! It’s borderline deplorable how these coaches don’t ever learn.
Oh Yeah, And The Kicker
Sweet fancy Buddha. Kathy Ireland, man. Girl couldn’t act her way into community theater, but did she really need to?
Rob F*cking Schneider
He was tolerable in this 22 years ago. Now, I fast-forwarded every scene with him. If the U.S. government could bottle and weaponize my hatred of Schneider, there wouldn’t be a square inch of Earth that didn’t belong to the U.S.
The Men Who Stand In Their Way
For starters, Dean Elias is a total a-hole. He basically doesn’t even want a football program at TSU, which is ludicrous because of all of the money that the program can make for the school. Instead, he believes that an education is the reason for people to attend college, but he’s no different than all of the other greedy college bastards stealing our money and burying us in debt under the guise of student loans. Dean Elias ruined America, folks.
He also scheduled a practice for the team against prison inmates, which would and should have been grounds for lawsuits by every player. But I don’t even care about the legal implications, as much as I care about two things:
1) For some reason Jim Kelly plays defense when they scrimmage against the prison team. Why was Jim Kelly playing defense?
2) And look at Jerry Rice’s hair!
Then there’s the BY GOD TEXAS TEXAS COLTS and their leader, Harlan “Flat Top” Meyers.
I really admire Blake for standing up to Flat Top at the rodeo bar, but I wouldn’t punch this meathead with cinder blocks tied to my hands. Twenty-two years later and I still have nightmares about this guy.
I guess you could also count Coach Gennero, as he wouldn’t even let the team have a party to celebrate their big tie in Week 9, because the jackets that Mr. Edison gave them counted as illegal benefits and Straight Arrow ain’t having any of that. That leads to Blake quitting the team because he doesn’t agree with Gennero’s stance that kids can’t have a little fun. Of course, he was just really bummed that his babe dumped him so he went crawling back to Coach Gennero like a big, 34-year old wuss.
Speaking Of Paul Blake’s Babe
We discover about halfway through the film that Dr. Suzanne Carter (the criminally underrated Harley Jane Kozak) had a crush on Blake back in high school, when he was the QB of the opposing team that crushed her boyfriend’s team in the state finals. She basically used to stalk him and all these years later she still wants a piece of the Blakester. That is, until Dean Elias correctly points out that she can’t be dating one of her students. She should have been fired on the spot, but she also should have quit because she’s a Harvard grad and can find a job anywhere, whether it be teaching college journalism or writing for a major publication.
Elias uses his perverted crush on Dr. Carter to question her grading since she’s banging a student so he can change all of the grades on the players’ midterms so he can flunk all of them before the final game against Texas.
Also, Coach Gennero’s Heart Doesn’t Want Them To Win
Coach Gennero almost dies before the big game, which causes Coach Rig to wear a tie. It’s pretty touching. But the team, behind the recently teacher sexed Blake, finally comes together as one and plays the game of the players’ lives to support their coach, who they probably think is already dead. Gennero makes it back in time to watch them upset the No. 1 team in the country, before he reveals that it was just indigestion. That kind of kills the buzz from Rig’s awesome halftime speech.
A better ending would have had Gennero die and visit the field as a ghost who takes Kathy Ireland’s shirt off. I know, I can’t believe I haven’t sold a screenplay yet either.
Final Grade: So does Necessary Roughness hold up after 22 years? Is it still one of my favorite sports movies ever made? F*ck yeah. Nothing touches this ending with Flat Top’s mouth exploding. Nothing.