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Bakula seems at home on big screen


"Necessary Roughness" offers Scott Bakula a delightful starring role as a 34-year-old farmer lured back to college to play football.

Mr. Bakula, who has made his mark as a time-traveling scientist in TV's critically acclaimed "Quantum Leap," has a laid-back quality that makes him a welcome, easy-to-take presence on the big screen.

The film itself is a genial, slight, entirely predictable football comedy, but it serves Mr. Bakula well. Director Stan Dragoti goes along with writers Rick Natkin and David Fuller's modest intentions and doesn't try to inflate the material with false significance.

Scandal has forced Texas State to get rid of its entire football team and coaching staff. A hard-nosed, straight-arrow Hector Elizondo has been hired, and he in turn brings in as his assistant his gruff old pal Robert Loggia. Mr. Loggia recalls a kid who was a phenomenal high school football star who threw away a college scholarship to take over the family farm when his father died suddenly. In short order, Mr. Bakula is persuaded to make a comeback after a 16-year absence.

There is wry humor in Mr. Bakula's generation gap predicament, both on and off the field, and the awkwardness that develops with his journalism prof (Harley Jane Kozak) when mutual attraction sets in.

There is the usual locker room camaraderie as the team assembles, which includes an astronomy professor (Sinbad) and even a woman (Kathy Ireland). Hovering over the scene constantly is the college's dean (Larry Miller, very funny), a smarmy type eager to see the game gone from the campus for all time.

'Necessary Roughness'

Starring Scott Bakula, Hector Elizondo and Robert Loggia

Directed by Stan Dragoti

Released by Paramount

Rated PG-13

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