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I especially loved the thinly disguised "BEAT" which closely paralleled "est" (Erhard Seminars Training, and they always wrote the acronym in lower case) which attracted many followers. I had the misfortune that year of working for a boss who was an est graduate (they called themselves "estholes") and two ex-hippie co-workers. est was their life, almost like a religion to them, and they were always pressuring the other workers on the team to take est. They had their own language -- e.g. "I'll take responsibility for that," "We have an agreement," and especially "I got it." (meaning I understand it). While Kris Kristofferson "got" the training, Jill Clayburgh did not. Since they wanted to get married they were afraid of a "mixed marriage." Fortunately Burt Reynolds also takes BEAT training and pretends to "get it" although you later learn he saw right through it from the beginning. Burt Convy as the seminar leader bore a striking resemblance to Warner Erhard, the founder and leader of est.
For your $300, the training consisted of two weekends spent in a hotel ballroom from about 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM both days. There were no breaks even to eat or go to the bathroom (no kidding!) The stunts in the movie paralleled the real est training, with things like lying on the floor hugging your pillow while kicking your feet in the air. After the training you were supposedly a changed person, free of your old hang-ups. Fortunately, I found another job where I was not subject to "estual harassment."
Robert Preston, the Team Owner, played his role perfectly too. To a background of Gene Autry records which matched his own view of the world, he tried many other psychic movements, including crawling around on the floor rather than walking. They also tried "Pelfing," a thinly veiled send-up of Rolfing. In fact, one other football player was a devotee of "pyramid power," proudly wearing a pyramid from a necklace.
This movie has been on TV but not recently. It would be fun to see it again. Interesting that the IMDB poll for this movie shows that viewers over 45 enjoyed it much more than the kids under 18. Yeah, they weren't around during those happy days of Disco, Leisure Suits, disaster movies, gas lines, est, Lifespring, Rolfing, Pyramid Power, and of course, "Happy Days."
If you enjoyed "Semi-Tough," another film you'd like is "Serial."
I give this one a "1", using the movie's scale.
One of Ritchie's weakest films, "Semi Tough" is a shapeless and abrasive satire which focuses on the world of American Foodball. Ritchie takes aim at obsessions with winning, self-help programmes, health fads and the vanity and vacuity of the self-obsessed. His overall target, though, is a more generalised form of "self-improvement". American capitalism itself hinges on a certain unquenchable, existential lack. The consumer is always unfulfilled, always in need of completion, an anxiety which capitalism incessantly creates desires to exploit. Failures to attain contentment are then transfered back to the subject, leading to guilt and an escalation of transfered desires; maybe the next hit will bring completion.
Elsewhere the film watches as children of the 1960s struggle in their search for meaning a decade after vague promises of liberation collapsed. What they latch onto is essentially a New Age cult which mixes narcissism and individualism with corporate maxims. Other Ritchie themes are brought up - the costs and violence of winning, exacted on both winners and losers etc - but it all feels forced, Ritchie trying too hard to be the next Altman. Tonally, the film struggles to juggle comedy, satire and drama.
"Semi Tough" is criticised for being smug and abrasive, but that's understandable, considering it's populated by smug, abrasive and self-obsessed characters. The film would begin Ritchie's slide into more mainstream, forgettable territory. Robert Altman's similarly themed "HEALTH" was released one year later.
5/10 - Worth one viewing.
Then - go find copies of every book by Dan Jenkins that you can lay your hands on and read them all: "Baja Oklahoma", "You Gotta Play Hurt", "Dead Solid Perfect" (the "Semi-Tough" of golf, featuring Kenny Lee Puckett, another Fort Worth native. This book also had an unfortunately mediocre movie made out of it - but with the minor thrill of seeing the luscious Corinne Bohrer (who usually plays squeaky-clean suburban mommies) as the lascivious and uninhibited Janie Ruth Rimmer (Kenny Lee's 3rd ex-wife-to-be), walking full-front naked down the hallway in a British hotel to fill the ice bucket - the shocked middle-aged couple who spot her are author Dan Jenkins and his wife, June, in a quick cameo appearance).
More of Jenkins' books that are must-reads: "The Money-Whipped, Steer-Job, Three-Jack Give-up Artist" ('nother golf book, with another - different - Texas golfer) and its follow-up, "Slim and None". Find these books and read 'em - do it - do it now! You'll be glad you did.
Jill Clayburgh is the owner's daughter, the owner being Robert Preston who is a flamboyant Texas millionaire and owner of the Dallas football team which for copyright reasons is never referred to as the Cowboys.
Having grown up with the team Clayburgh is on a first name basis with all the players and they treat her with due deference. She'd like a little more going with either Reynolds or Kristofferson, but can't make her mind up which one. It's almost like Crosby/Hope/Lamour without any songs.
Some nice performances will be found from masseuse Lotte Lenya, fake motivational speaker Bert Convy, and also the best from Brian Dennehy as a defensive end who's really abusing the steroids. It's from Dennehy that we get some potentially serious moments in an easy going film.
Fans of the leads should appreciate Semi-Tough.
want "Smokey and the Bandit" think it's weird and not funny; the people
who want "Scenes from a Marriage" think it's sophomoric. Well, it is
weird and occassionally sophomoric, but it is very, very funny in an
underhanded, ironic way - and also in an over-the-top goofball way. You
better be prepared for different kinds of jokes coming at you
unexpectedly. This obviously big-budget studio comedy has more in common
with discursive satires like "Smile" or "Nashville" than other studio
comedies of the period, although it is far more well-made and plotty
than either "Nashville" or "Smile": I think it's the best of both worlds
- satire and spontaneity wrapped up in a comfy old-fashioned romantic
comedy. Think "My Man Godfrey" with four letter words and football. It's
true the characters do not have exactly novelistic depth, but surely
Carole Lombard's character in "Godfrey" was as thin as a pancake - but
it didn't matter because Lombard was playing her, and she made up in
dizzy star-power what the writers left out. Here Jill Clayburg is the
Lombard part, a real star at the top of her game, radiating star-powered
charm. Matching her watt for watt is Burt Reynolds, perfectly cast, and
able to make the odd-ball anti-intellectualisms of the writing sound
perfectly effortless. Kris Kristofferson is in the Ralph Bellamy part -
the guy whose job it is to get jilted - but he oozes a full-bore sexual
magnetism that makes the heroine's confusion perfectly understandable.
This is real neglected gem - you shall recognize it for the dunces are
in a c
So calling this a football movie would be a misnomer, there's really very little game action in the story. The main idea here was sending up all those self help seminars of the Seventies meant to get one in touch with one's self. I had a college prof once who took a similar approach, asking the class to position themselves (in our desks) in a manner meant to convey how in touch we were with him and the rest of the students. For a liberal school, I couldn't sit far enough away. But we read a lot of R. Crumb - keep on truckin' dude!
So with all the 'being where it's at', 'getting it or not getting it', and the whole business about mixed marriages, this flick got a little tedious after a while. Jill Clayburgh was the perfect casting call for the role of Barbara Jane. I've seen her in a few other films and she's got the tedious thing down pretty well pat.
Reading some of the other reviews I see the film has it's share of adherents, but if it's a 'real' football movie you want, along with Burt Reynolds, your best bet is to head on over to 1974's "The Longest Yard" or the 2005 remake of the same name - Reynolds is in both.
But what has got me about this film is the way Burt Reynolds character becomes; laid-back, relaxed, unjudgemental, wise and very respectable. That in itself gave me the image of who I want to be, a man who is laid-back, honest and unjudgemental, a man who is wise and respectable. No doubt, I will try to spend my life becoming that man.
Apparently the film is based (loosely) on a laugh-a-page novel. If that's the case, most of the laughs obviously stayed on the printed page because they definitely didn't make it to onto the screen. I smiled once or twice, but that was it. Jill Clayburgh seems to be completely out of her depth (if the word depth can be applied to a film like this) and there's something a little disturbing about hearing those Anglo-Saxon expletives issuing from her demure features. She certainly doesn't seem the flighty type to inflame the passions of such macho characters as Reynolds and Kristofferson.
Kristofferson is outshone in every department by good-ol'-boy Burt, which is a pretty damning statement when you think about it. There just doesn't seem to be any vitality about the man, and he mostly drifts through his scenes with an expression of serene disinterest an expression I shared with him for most of this film's running time, especially the overlong est-whitewashing sequence which appeared to be one long run-in to Reynold's mildly amusing peeing-in-a-flask gag.
In biting off this challenge, however, the movie strays from the characters and into lapses of football games and farcical "individual awareness" training. Only Puckett's character manages to be mildly interesting, yet he fails to take center stage in the action - which is muddled by distractions. Kristofferson's character quickly becomes 1 dimensional, leaving me indifferent to the final climax. And the closing dialogue begs the question, "where did the title come from?"