Semi-Tough

Super 70s flavor, charming movie
★★★
☆☆
Released: 
1977
Director: 
Michael Ritchie
Starring: 
Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, Jill Clayburgh
The Setup: 
A woman lives with two 70s professional football playin' good ol' boys, one of whom is a devotee of and est-like pseudo-religion.
Discussion: 

I watched this movie as part of my HOT BURT film festival, only to find that although he still retains that alluringly seedy Burt-ness, he's already on the downslide of his hotness. And what about that toupee?

I had attempted to watch The Longest Yard earlier for the same reasons, and also because I suppose at some point I'll watch the Adam Sandler remake, but it was just too goddamned BORING and I had to turn it off. Besides, this one has Burt with mustache in place, but retains the appealing football milieu which requires the doffing of shirts, and also allows for the inclusion of multiple hunky supporting players.

This film does not fail in that regard. The very first scene features the nude and semi-nude shower and locker-room rompings of a bunch of manly 70s types, and may in itself constitute the most compelling reason for certain viewers to sit through this. This is the best part, but the movie does showcase randy macho 70s men with hair, mustaches, and awesome tight pants and shirts open to their waists throughout. Compelling!

Dear straight male readers: The blatant man-oogling portion of this review is going to end now, so you need no longer fear that your penis is going to fall off if you read further.

This movie IS quite notable for the sheer amount of 70s fabulousness packed into virtually every frame. I simply had to stop writing down the times of all the amazing 70s sights this film offers because, basically, I would be reproducing the entire movie! But dude, seriously, check out the picture of this woman [above] who appears in just one cutaway shot. This movie is full of things like that. You've got Burt in a full-length mink and cowboy hat, Kris in mirrored sunglasses [always a fashion MUST], nameless women in HUGE sunglasses, Kris shirtless in a bed made of brown fur with a radio installed in the ceiling, the sudden appearance of Carl Weathers, and the presence of Jill Clayburgh, the list of amazing 70s phenomena just goes on and on. Virtually all we're lacking is Harry Reems.

It must also be noted that this film contains the line: "I just peed in my pants. and it felt GOOD!"

This movie was adapted from a novel by Dan Jenkins that I haven't read, but based on the movie, seems to be a low-key social commentary/comedy in the Elmore Leonard / Carl Hiassen mold. Nearly everyone on the IMDb who has the read the novel HATES the movie and says it's a crappy adaptation. So there you go.

The movie concerns two pro football players, played by Burt and Kris, who are apparently superstars. They live with Jill Clayburgh, who is the daughter of the owner of the team, played by Robert Preston. There is a light romantic rivalry between the guys for Jill's affections [the movie operates on the conceit that Jill Clayburgh is attractive], and there is some related hugger-mugger about this est or Scientology-type religion that is the regular bullshit about finding yourself and being centered, all that. Kris, who becomes engaged to Jill, wants her to go through the initiation. She does, but still doesn't get into it, and this causes a crisis as he's not sure they can get married if one of them believes and one doesn't.

But the real point of this movie is the slow and easy energy developed by the key players, the anecdotal look at the off-field lives of the players, and the casual and relaxed pace it takes toward getting to its conclusion. The movie plays primarily from Burt's perspective, and follows a path so subtle it couldn't even really be described as an arc, taking generous time out for scenes that just further flesh out his character or show the backdrop of the player's lives. I think that was the best thing about the movie, and why in the end I generally liked it and felt it was pretty good. It's a nice slice of life movie without a set moral to get across or conclusion to reach. It just plays it slow and casual and that was very refreshing.

Should you watch it: 

If you're looking for 70s flavor or 70s man-hunks, definitely. If you're just looking for a movie, well, it can't hurt.