“The Replacements” was directed by Howard Deutch who previously did “Pretty In Pink”, “The Great Outdoors” as well as the hit TV series, “Tales from The Crypt” & “Melrose Place”. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton, Orlando Jones, Faizon Love, Jon Favreau, Michael Taliferro, Rhys Irans and Brett Cullen. Despite having similarities to actual NFL events this film is careful not mention the NFL in any way possible. However, the film does include appearances from NFL broadcasters, Pat Summerall & John Madden and has some references to the Super Bowl.
The Washington Sentinels are a pro football team that sees a majority of their players go on strike including their star QB, Eddie Martel (Cullen). With only 4 games left, the Sentinels’ owner brings in former coach, Jimmy McGinty (Hackman) to lead them to playoffs using replacement players. McGinty recruits Guards Jamal & Andre Jackson (Love & Tailferro), Wide Receiver, Clifford Franklin (Jones), Linebacker Danny Bateman (Favreau) Kicker Nigel Gruff (Irans) and Quarterback Shane Falco (Reeves). While other players have had somewhat success elsewhere, Falco begins to doubt himself almost immediately having suffered a humiliating loss in the infamous “Sugar Bowl” in which Falco’s team lost by over 40 points. As the team struggles to find their rhythm, Falco begin to accept his role as the leader and the teams follows slowly him. With a team of misfits, the Sentinels must over come the odds both on and off the field if their going to make it to the promise land at the end of the year. No pressure.
This was quite an entertaining film all the way around. It has the typical sports movie cliches but then again what other way is to tell this story about the Gridiron. Great performances from Reeves and Hackman, the football scenes were perfectly put together and the storyline was great underdog story. The only flaws with this film would be the predictable storyline and the cliches but it doesn’t take anything away from the film overall.
Coming off his huge success in the previous decade, Keanu Reeves took an unconventional route with this film. While his greatness lies with his action films, he has those moments in dramatic films, and here was actually a great outing in the genre. Gene Hackman adds to his historical resume of great films. While Jon Favreau has been in a few films like this one, 2003’s “Daredevil”, 1993’s “Rudy” & 1996’s “Swingers”, his has made a name for himself in last number of years a director. His directorial films include “Elf”, “Cowboys & Aliens”, “Chef” as well as the first 2 “Iron Man” films and the 2016 live action version of “The Jungle Book” & 2019’s “The Lion King”. While “The Replacements wasn’t a huge film by any means, it still has a lot of enjoyment with a solid storyline and great performances. My opinion it does fall into the same discussion as other football films like “The Waterboy”, “Gridiron Gang” and “Invincible”. Now it isn’t “Rudy” or “Any Given Sunday” good and pales in comparison to a classic like “Remember the Titans” but however it has a special place in hearts of football film fans such as myself.