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Semi-Tough
IMDB Rating: 5.9/10 from 1,747 votes
Release: June 1978 (Austria) /

Semi-Tough

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Sport
Director: Michael Ritchie,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: A comedy about two football players and their mutual girlfriend. Includes many spoofs and parodies about various self-help groups and personal self-improvement seminars that were wildly popular during the 1970's. Written by <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews


"Semi-Tough" has got to be one of the best comedies of all time. The casting is perfect, and the acting is very understated. You could really identify with Kris Kristofferson, Bert Reynolds, and Jill Clayburgh as lost children of the 1960s looking for the answers to life in the 1970s. They parody to a "T" some of the self-help and consciousness raising scams of the times.

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."

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