The Replacements (2000)

THE REPLACEMENTS, the first film for Keanu Reeves since THE MATRIX 
and a football comedy no less (whoa), has your standard sports und-
er-dog set-up: a professional players strike at the end of the sea-
son leaves the D.C. team with four games to go.  Since they're also 
only three wins away from the playoffs-- and haven't been in years 
-- the walking cadaver owner (Jack Warden) starts signing "scabs," 
plus one old pro to coach 'em (Gene Hackman, looking more than a 
*little* like Lee J. Cobb as he continues to age gracefully).  Fil-
ling the ranks of the replacements is a (mostly) motley crew of 
misfits, including a sumo wrestler (Ace Yonamine), a Welsh soccer 
player (Rhys Ifans), and a bloodthirsty SWAT-team member (Jon Fav-
reau, bug-eyed).  Personality clashes ensue, no shit, plus a ton of 
wacky game footage.  (See: line dancing, end zone.)  Reeves plays 
the QB and the movie's most mellow (if downright morose) character.  
Er, *ensemble* character.  (No lion's share of screen time for him 
or anyone else!)  And there's also a love interest, Brooke Langton, 
as head of the equally colorful cheerleading squad.  (The latter 
comprised chiefly of ex-strippers, who strut their "PG"-rated stuff 
on the sidelines.)  

Howard Deutch directs.  You know, the auteur of such contemporary 
OLD MEN.  Here, he displays such expert expertise as a consistently 
weak sense of comic timing and the near-total smothering of the 
soundtrack in pop songs.  I mean, right down to the jaw-dropping 
cliched inclusion of Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of 
Business!"  Not that Homer Simpson would mind...  There's also the 
unpleasant whiff of a sentimental streak that, thankfully, trans-
lates into a mere *handful* of (slightly) serious moments.  (Even 
better: there's not a single moment of slapstick to report in the 
entire film!)  Eh, I can't recall laughing more than three or four 
times, but Saturday night's sneak-preview audience seemed to enjoy 
it.  Maybe they're football fans...  With Orlando Jones, Brett Cul-
len, David Denman, Gailard Sartain, Art LeFleur, Michael Taliferro, 
Faizon Love, Pat Summerall, and John Madden, who as a sportscaster 
(duh) gets the best line in the movie:  "I love to see a fat man 
score."  (Rated "PG-13"/~100 min.)

Grade: C

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros                    

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Picking Scabs

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros