For those of you who don't know and for those of you who do know but would still like to hear more, the film "Semi-Tough" recently opened in town.
The title of the film was taken from a book written by Dan Jenkins, and the story is told in the first-person narrative by Billy Clyde Puckett, fictitious star halfback of the New York Giants.
The book "Semi-Tough" is a funny exaggeration of football characters - their lives, their feelings, their observations - and is told in a style which adds even more humor to a business that is, in itself, already humorous.
The film "Semi-Tough" should have been retitled "Semi-Boring" for it not only has little to do with the original book but also has little to do with football, either real or imagined. However, briefly, the film does show an owner, a coach and four or five players in various football situations. It is about these players and their portrayal of professional football to which I shall address my comments. (Owner and coaches will have to write their own articles.)
First of all, and perhaps I am being overly sensitive, I am tired of offensive linemen being represented, as Joan Ryan would notice but not put it, as "monosyllabic idiots." (Especially if, as in the film, the right tackle's number happens to be 71!)
In any case, this same tackle is one of those blockheaded blockers who suspends a bosomy lady over a third-story balcony and seems quite prepared to drop her on her head or bosom or whatever, mostly because if he doesn't drop her no one will take him seriously. Now, anyone who understands football in the least will know that while being a tackle in the profession can make a person paranoid, he would be more prone to suspend a sportswriter over a balcony than an innocent lady.
The director of this picutre has done some fine work in the past so I will conclude that the difficulties surrounding making Kris Kristofferson look like a professional receiver in the brief football sequences were insurmountable. Speaking of these sequences, the lack of realism is astounding and could probably be summed up as semi-terrible. Whoever wrote the script should have checked the odds on there being mud in Green Bay in December.
Of all the images the movie attempts to create, the most entertaining is the foreign field-goal kicker. It is true that soccer players recruited in nonfootball countries (everywhere but the U.S.) can kick but do not understand anything else about the game. The owner of Billy Clyde's team, a Texan, at one point refers to his kicker as a Commie. But Texans look an anyone not from Texas as a Commie.
Another topic which must be explained in detail (to wives and girlfriends) is the way road trips are depicted in the movie as wild free-for-alls. Actually, road trips are a maze of team meetings, curfews and bed checks. More important, the players recognize the need to get their rest and, being mature men, make every effort to do so. (How's that, guys?)
In order not to be judged as being unfair to the motion picture, I will point out one similarity between fact and fiction. Although I have only seen it played among team members, "liar's poker" is a popular game. Burt Reynolds' lack of ability ever to win at liar's poker is one of the funnier parts of "Semi-Tough" and brings to mind several close friends on the Redskins.
"Semi-Tough" has little to do with professional football. Worse, it has little to do with the book, and you may find staying awake truly semi-tough.