Necessary Roughness

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Necessary Roughness Movie Poster Image
Awful '90s football story has hard hits, profanity, clichés.
  • PG-13
  • 1991
  • 108 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Teams need strong leadership to reach their potential. Prevalent sexist attitudes toward female place kicker/punter. To be a good leader you have to grow up. Sometimes just taking the field is a victory in itself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Quarterback Paul Blake goes back to college mainly to play football but takes academics seriously. He's aimless and uncomfortable with a leadership role but eventually matures into it. Coach Gennero is quiet, clever, lets people figure things out for themselves, and doesn't tolerate insubordination. Coach Rig yells and swears a lot, plays the heavy, but also has good ideas.

Violence

Old-school football emphasizes hard hits, some played for comedy. On the field there are a few punches, lots of hard hits, and small amounts of blood from scrapes and cuts. A bar fight shows kicks, punches, smashing tables and chairs, and breaking glass. A man is kicked in the groin.

Sex

Male nudity from behind in one brief shower scene. Lewd, sexist comments and curves gesture directed at female player. A couple talk in bed sitting up; no nudity is shown. An excessive celebration includes lewd, "freaking"-type dance moves.

Language

"Ass," "s--t," "hell," "a--hole," "bitch," "p---y," "bulls--t," "f--king," "dammit," and "son of a bitch." Lots of name calling. Middle-finger gesture.

Consumerism

One bar scene shows typical logo-ed lights and signs that are all Budweiser products. Gatorade dumped over winning coach. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character smokes. College kids drink beer or champagne. An adult drinks hard liquor once. Being "off the sauce" mentioned once. Flashback about sports scandal mentions steroids, shows young man with a hypodermic needle. Taking "nitro" pills frequently for chest pain mentioned. Two players shown putting large wads of chewing tobacco in their mouths, which makes one sick.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Necessary Roughness is a '90s movie about old-school football. Taunting and hard hits rule the day, with many hits to the head, but concussion and head injury aren't mentioned. On-field violence shows lots of hard hits, punches, and small amounts of blood; off the field there's one bar brawl. A woman joins the team as the punter/placekicker and faces lewd, sexist taunting. Male nudity is shown from behind briefly. Strong language is frequent and includes "f--king," "s--t," and "p---y." Characters drink, chew tobacco, and smoke; steroids are mentioned and shown. Positive messages about teamwork are noticeably absent, but there are some positive messages about what it takes to be a leader.

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What's the story?

Paul Blake (Scott Bakula) was a star quarterback in high school. But he gave up his chance at college glory to run the family farm after his father died. Nearby Texas State University's football program is on the rocks, thanks to a recently uncovered scandal and corruption. Although now 34 years old, Paul is eligible to play if he enrolls as a freshman, and Coach Gennero (Hector Elizondo) thinks he might just be the man who can lead the team back from the past year's disaster. With only 17 eligible players, the team will have to bring back iron-man football and give it everything they've got and plenty they don't to save the fighting Armadillos of Texas State.

Is it any good?

NECESSARY ROUGHNESS moves from one sports-movie cliché to another and revisits some of them several times, without ever finding a heart. The story and characters are so predictable and flat they're not even worth watching. Hard-core fans who like to watch players taking hard hits might not find the in-between stuff too much of an interruption but would be better off watching highlight reels. Everyone else should sit this one out. Check out our handpicked recommendations for football movies that'll really make you cheer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why sports movies are so popular. Why are we so inspired by athletic achievement? 

  • How has the game of football changed since this movie was made in the early '90s? What changes are for the better? Have we lost anything of value, or is it a better game now?

  • Steroid use, cheating, and corruption make headlines in both professional and college sports. Do you think these things are a big deal? Why, or why not?

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