The Film: The Replacements (Buy it from CHUD?)
The Principles: Howard Deutch (director), Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton, Jon Favreau, Orlando Jones
The Premise: A thinly-veiled comedic take on the actual NFL walk-out of 1987, a strike leaves the fictional Washington Sentinels football team without its players. The owners rehire ex-coach Jimmy McGinty (Hackman) to put together a squad of replacement players to get their season back on track. McGinty recruits the most ragtag bunch of rapscallions he can, lead among them disgraced ex-quarterback Shane Falco (Reeves) – a choke artist who now cleans boats. This unlikely group of men need to win three games to advance into the playoffs, do you think they’ll pull it together in time to be successful?
The answer is yes. Yes they will.
Is It Good: Is jockage good?
The film is something of a cinematic cousin to Stone’s Any Given Sunday, in that neither seem to have a firm grasp on A) What a football is, B) What it is used for, and C) Who are the people using it. It’s as if having a complete misunderstanding of the sport was prerequisite for being involved in the film. Believe it or not, I actually think Keanu Reeves is a decent performer when he’s married to the right material. But The Replacements is terribly miscast across the board, so it’s no surprise when we get a moment like this one:
Is that a scene or an exclusive, on-set review of the very movie Mr. Reeves is appearing in? Now multiply that across 90 minutes and you have a pretty good understanding of what The Replacements is all about. Astoundingly, there’s a confidence about the film that oozes around every corner. You get the sense that the involved parties had a decent time making the film (except perhaps for Reeves) and they’re all having great fun in their roles. It’s a raucous romp – with a chain-smoking field-goal kicker, cop and ex-con teammates co-existing, and Brooke Langton teaching strippers how to replacement cheerlead (because professional cheerleaders and players are bound to the same contracts, you see).
You know what else was a raucous romp? The Titanic, before it sank to the bottom of the ocean. The Replacements starts at the bottom, and attempts to disprove physics by sinking further.
Is it worth a look: Did you pay for it? Is it airing for free on cable? How much alcohol do you have in your domicile? How quickly can you get it inside of you?
Random Anecdotes: This was Jack Warden’s last film. I would never intimate that The Replacements killed Jack Warden, but The Replacements totally killed Jack Warden.
This is also the second film in which Keanu Reeves plays a former quarterback from Ohio State. The first being Point Break. Somebody cast Keanu Reeves as a legitimate former quarterback. And then somebody else, dissatisfied with how little football Keanu plays in Point Break, did it again – only as a current quarterback. That’s kind of astounding.
Cinematic Soulmates: Any Given Sunday, A bag of shit sandwiches