It’s time to open the SBS Film Vault back up and dig deep for 1991’s Necessary Roughness. This is a film that is loosely based on the “death penalty” given to SMU in 1987 and only loosely funny, but full of so much early 90’s nostalgia that you’ve got to love it. Let’s open up the vault and take a look at this off the wall comedy about a sad excuse for a college football team.
Meet the Armadillos
The Fightin’ Armadillos are the pride and joy of Texas State University and have been a perennial championship powerhouse in college football. That is, until the previous administration, coaches and players were found guilty of multiple NCAA rules violations. The sanctions handed down to the team are reminiscent of those given to SMU in 1987. The resulting “death penalty” forces the team to start the season with an entirely new slate of players and coaches. To top it all off, the dean of Texas State, is a total dick that keeps trying to sabotage the team so he can shut down the program entirely.
With no scholarships, the team must hold tryouts and after the dean declares many prospective players ineligible, they are left with 17 scrubs. The team is forced to play ironman football, meaning that the players play on both offense and defense. The head coach, Ed Gennero (Hector Elizondo) and his trusty d-coordinator and assistant, Wally Riggendorf (TV’s Robert Loggia), find themselves using some unorthodox tactics to fill the holes on the team. That includes finding older players who still have NCAA eligibility for various reasons.
Quarterback, Paul Blake (Scott Bakula), is a 34-year-old former high school football star who never attended college. Coach Riggendorf finds him working the family farm and convinces him to go back to college and play some ball. Good thing they get his old ass off the farm and onto campus because it’s Blake who recruits graduate student teaching assistant Andre Krimm, played by 90’s favorite Sinbad. Krimm is a braniac who left the game behind because he was told he would need to take blow-off classes if he wanted to play. Because of that he still has a year of eligibility and is able to join the team.
Under the leadership of Scott Bakula’s poor excuse for a Texas accent, and Sinbad’s light-hearted, fun-loving attitude, the Armadillo’s are ready to take on the world! And get beaten to a pulp. One last big roster addition is the move to secure a kicker. In order to do that, the coaches poach Lucy Draper, played by bombshell Kathy Ireland, from the school’s women’s soccer team. Add in a the guys who played Alvin Mack and Lattimer in The Program, and a young, fresh-face Jason Bateman, and you’ve got the makings of one awful college football team.
Poor man’s Major League
All one has to do it look at the poster for this movie to realize that they are going hard for the whole Major League thing. They lay it on pretty thick, but they can’t really pull it off. It’s pretty hard to rip off a classic that was released only two years prior, and make it all come together. It’s got a similar story, in that this is a team that is horrible and regularly gets stomped by opposing teams only to pull it together in the end and beat the first-ranked University of Texas Colts, who the team also got into a bar fight with.
Perhaps the most egregious imitation of the film Major League is the the use of a quirky announcer to cut away from the game action and accentuate just how bad this team is. Instead of the the hilarious Bob Uecker, this movie brings you the insufferable Rob Schneider. The second you see it on screen you know they are ripping off a much better sports comedy. It’s mildly infuriating and sadly not very funny. Schneider brings the whole “makin the copies” thing to the broadcast booth and makes you want to break your tv.
So that’s our quick look at Necessary Roughness. Maybe I’m being too hard on this movie, but I really don’t think so. It’s too much of a Major League ripoff too soon. As a kid, I remember watching and being entertained but I think that’s only because Kathy Ireland was on a poster in my bedroom and I was a big Sinbad fan. But don’t take my word for it. Go watch it, and report back here in the comments section to give your opinion.