[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00005B75T][/pullquote] The Replacements was released in November 2000. The previous 18 months had seen American football-themed films Any Given Sunday, Remember the Titans and Varsity Blues released to mix responses critically and commercially. It seemed that the genre had been over-saturated when this by-the-numbers sports drama-comedy introduced us to Shane ˜Footsteps’ Falco (Keanu Reeves) and Coach McGinty (Gene Hackman) and the rest of the troupe of ˜scab’ players.
Loosely based around the infamous NFL strike of 1987, but with the Washington Redskins replaced by the Washington Sentinels, the action sees all the Sentinals first-team go on strike, forcing the owner to employ old coach McGinty (Hackman), who gets a group of misfit players together and forges them into a successful team. Hence The Replacements.
There are certain conventions in the majority of american football films, including a confidence-struggling quarterback, a team that don’t get along and a final match where everything hangs in the balance until the final play. The Replacements has it all. It doesn’t try to be clever or original in its approach and even the soundtrack tells you exactly what you should be feeling. Hackman provides rare moments of class that are slightly at-odds with the slapstick comedy of players like Nigel ˜The Leg’ Gruff (Rhys Ifans) and Danny Bateman (Jon Favreau). Falco (Reeves) adds a level of a-list star power and is likeable as the main focus of the action.
The dialogue is predictable and full of clichÃ©s, but somehow they all fit into the overall experience, leading to a thoroughly enjoyable, if ultimately unfulfilling, air-headed popcorn-fest. Whether it’s McGinty dispensing fortune cookie philosophy winners want the ball or Falco coolly ignoring the gibes of the professional players as they tip his jeep over time and again, the film doesn’t ever get confused about its intentions. This is played purely for fun, which it accomplishes with some cheesy style.
You won’t learn anything from The Replacements you didn’t already know, but you will be endlessly quoting it forever more, and it serves as a perfect film for a quiet Saturday night in.