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Semi-Tough


A fairly funny time capsule of 1977, SEMI-TOUGH captures a very different era of sports films and R-rated comedies.

Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson play two professional football players, aptly named Billy Clyde Puckett and Shake Tiller. As longtime best friends, the two have long been a trio completed by the team owner's daughter Barbara Jane, sweetly played by Jill Clayburgh.

The film focuses on pro football, the oddball bunch of team players including Brian Dennehy and Carl Weathers in early film roles.

Robert Preston is hilarious as team owner Big Ed Bookman.

If you've read the classic sports book by Dan Jenkins on which the film is based, the film really disappoints, barely resembling the novel. It's a great and funny read.

Director Michael Ritchie (Fletch) throws out the source material to focus on many other topics that seemed timely in 1977 including self help groups and seminars. Reynolds and Kristofferson have a lot of fun playing off each other, but Kris plays it pretty low key throughout.

When the dynamics of their three way friendship are thrown off by Shake proposing to Barbara Jean, Billy Clyde focuses on trying to find a way to stop the marriage, all while preparing for the Super Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys.

The "game" scenes are pretty badly shot and the onfield action only comes to life when a young Ron Silver appears as a VERY long range field goal kicker named Vlada Kostov (what's up with these names?).

It's all pretty lightweight, but sprinkled with enough language and nudity to earn the R rating. I wish the makers of Moneyball would take a serious crack at Jenkins book, now THAT would be a great sports comedy!

SEMI-TOUGH is only SEMI-entertaining, but plenty of lightweight fun if you are looking for a nostalgic Burt Reynolds comedy. We'll put a B- on the scoreboard.

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