By Mark Goodman
October 14, 1991 12:00 PM

Hector Elizondo, Robert Loggia

Note: This appraisal will contain no football metaphors (e.g. performances not quite crossing goal lines, an actor penalized 15 yards for holding Kathy Ireland, etc.). Suffice it to say that Necessary Roughness is not particularly rough and is certainly not necessary. It was directed by Stan Dragoti, whose principal credit is a previous marriage to model Cheryl Tiegs, which may explain why swimsuit favorite Ireland is playing a placekicker here. The movie is really one of the many illegitimate grandchildren of the antique Marx Brothers comedy Horse Feathers (1932). That is, the geeks get to take over the football team.

This being the ’90s, there is a dollop of verisimilitude about all this nonsense; i.e., the Texas State Armadillos must make do with castoffs and walk-ons because they’ve been placed on NCAA probation for massive recruiting violations. Coaching the armorless Armadillos are (thankfully) two topflight actors, Elizondo and Loggia, who give the movie at least a touch of school spirit. Elizondo summons a gung ho prospect from the ROTC and asks, “Son, are you all that you can be?” The lad shouts back, “Yes, sir!” Elizondo then muses, “Well, it’s a little too much.”

So is the movie—especially for moms and dads dragged by their subteens to witness this subhuman exercise. At least parents can enjoy the coaches’ byplay, guest shots to the jaw by a squad of former NFL greats (Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Ben Davidson and Tony Dorsett, among others), plus Scott Bakula, the handsomest thirtysomething quarterback since Warren (Heaven Can Wait) Beatty and, yes, Ireland, the most gorgeous non-Balkan place-kicker in football history. (PG)