Backfield in Motion
As someone who has found this season’s Roseanne to be, week after week, the funniest, most adventurous, deepest sitcom around, I’m sorry that Backfield in Motion is such a trite little TV movie. Roseanne Arnold stars as the mother of a teenage son (Johnny Galecki) who tries to organize a football game in which mothers will play against her son’s all-male high school team. She thinks it’ll be a way to have fun while proving that women can do anything men can do. But the event takes on a life of its own, as the team’s coach (Michael Pniewski) turns the game into a macho test and the moms use it as a gesture of rebellion against their disapproving husbands.
Tom Arnold costars as the nebbishy vice principal who gets roped into coaching the mothers’ team. His character falls in love with Roseanne’s — she’s a widow — and the Arnolds’ real-life romance makes an easy transition to light comedy; their teasing banter is the best, most spontaneous thing in the movie. Roseanne has frequently declared herself a feminist, but this movie tries to gets its laughs at women’s expense: We’re supposed to be amused at how clumsy they are on the field, at how silly they look in football uniforms — there’s even a running joke about the size of one player’s breasts. Except as a vehicle for the Arnolds to play a romantic couple, Backfield in Motion is a pointless addition to Roseanne’s admirable work. C-