The Replacements

replacements-poster“Go get the BALL!!! RRAAARRR!!!”

The Scoop: 2000 PG-13, directed by Robert Deutch and starring Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, and Brooke Langton

Tagline: Pain heals, Chicks dig scars… Glory lasts forever

Summary Capsule: Football and strippers, what more could you want?

Andie’s Rating: I wish I was a stripper cum cheerleader…..

Andie’s Review: The Replacements is a decent football movie starring Gene Hackman, Keanu Reeves, and Jon Favreau. It is the tale of the made up Washington Sentinels when their players all go on strike. Gene Hackman as Coach McGinty rounds up a motley crew of players to take their place and wacky sports hijinks ensue.

It’s totally predictable; I mean, when was the last time you watched a sports movie when the team you’re supposed to be rooting for DIDN’T win the game? But it still manages to be extremely funny. My personal favorite is Jon Favreau as a football player cum SWAT team member cum football player again. He is absolutely maniacal, running around kicking everybody’s butt. Hugh Grant’s roommate from Notting Hill is also in this movie as a retired soccer player cum football kicker named Legs. He’s awesome! He actually takes his cigarette out on the field with him, how cool is that? Keanu Reeves as quarterback Shane Falco is nothing to write home about, but he’s pretty good. Other standouts include the guy from the “Make 7-Up Yours” commercial, particularly when he leads the team in a line dance to “I Will Survive.” In jail, no less. And I love the deaf guy, mostly because he’s cute, but he’s also pretty funny. As an ensemble, these guys are all terrific.

The real standouts, in my opinion, are the cheerleaders. Apparently, when the football players strike, so do the Pom Pom Girls. So it’s up to the head cheerleader (who also is Keanu’s love interest and that is just sickening, I’d rather poke my eyes out with sticks than watch these two chemistry-impared numnuts get romantically involved) to recruit a new cheerleading squad. Well, the Pom Pom rejects at tryouts are enough to satisfy my laugh quotient for awhile, but she ends up having to hire the only girls with dance experience: strippers. It’s awesome! The girls are on the sidelines making all sorts of lewd suggestions with their bodies, making the game that much more interesting to watch.

The Replacements is an entertaining movie, to say the least. North Dallas Forty it is not, but still worth the two hours it takes to watch it.

Justin’s Rating: I used to be a stripper AND a cheerleader, but that’s all behind me now…

Justin’s Review: Sports movies always have the handicap of being predictable. Rarely do we want to see a well-oiled team of professionals go out for the big game and lose. No, we psychotic Americans (and I warmly extend that definition to those north and south of our borders) demand, time after time, that we have a bunch of screw-ups defy all odds of being original and win the big game. Yup. Whoo and Hoo. So it’s a little hard to get that excited as this tired formula is trotted out for the amusement of little kids seeking a cheap thrill of riding a former champion stud.

And let’s not forget Keanu Reeves, who continues to puzzle us all by being a megastar in megafilms while being a megaweenie. Seriously, this actor has the charisma of a severed monkey paw (the boring type, the type without three backfiring wishes). He’s called to be this inspiring leader of a football team, yet his inspiration goes as far as a few puzzled facial expressions (I like to think he’s solving world hunger) and he lives on a houseboat, which automatically qualifies him to be a Strong, Silent Loner Stereotype. Let me ask you this: do you KNOW anyone who lives on a houseboat, or even a boat? Then why is every other action/sports movie hero leasing property in the Pacific? That’s just so odd, and it bugs me.

I’m nitpicking here (ahh! nits everywhere!), and I think it’s just my mood. The Replacements isn’t an awful movie. Jon Faverau (GUTTER!) dearly makes up for Very Bad Things by making all of my close committed friends seem utterly sane. He’s a powerhouse of madness, and by Jove, we do need that. I think he outdid Adam Sandler’s frustrated cajun in sheer feriocity. See, that is really what football is all about — venting man fury.

It’s an okay film. I couldn’t get too emotionally involved, and if a sports movie can’t do that, then it never has a Japanese’s chance in Godzilla Tokyo of being anything more than okay.

Rule of Two Notice: As with some lukewarm feelings toward comedies tend to change over time, so did my perception of The Replacements. Going back to rewatch it, Keanu still blew, but I was laughing a heckuva lot more. Not only did I really love the wildly diverse team makeup, but their constant bickering and sniping (particularly in a huddle during their first game, when they’re discussing plays so loudly the other team can hear) is hysterical. As a sports movie, it’s still kinda weak… but as a comedy, it’s been moved back into my “A-OkeyDokey” pile.

PoolMan’s Rating: I’ve never in my life so wanted to be a sumo wrestling football player.

PoolMan’s Review:
Sports movies and me have a mixed past. You have some funny stuff, you have some crap, and you have some Sunday afternoon UPN specials (ie. more crap). Far too often sports movies in general, and football and baseball movies in particular, fall into terrible cliche within 5 seconds of the opening title shot. Of course, you will spend the entire movie cheering for an underdog team/player/psycho, it’s a given. Wouldn’t be much of a movie if all you did was cheer on last year’s championship team, would it? (“Damn it guys, we’re the New York Yankees! We HAVE to win a 17th consecutive World Series! I’ve got Ferraris to buy!”) Heck, if anyone can create a football movie without using ANY cliche that has appeared in a previous sports movie I’ll eat my underpants!

But cliche ridden as The Replacements inevitably turns out to be, it was just way too much fun. I watched it at a family dinner with my parents, my brother, and my aunt and uncle. Although watching the segments with the strippers with your mother in the room can be rather unnerving, we had an absolute blast. Particularly when we all started arguing about what dance the team was doing in the jailhouse, and Auntie Sherrie got up and started dancing WITH them! What a riot! I guess it wasn’t the Electric Slide after all…

But I digress. I do that.

The basic truth behind all sports movies is that they’re extremely character based, particularly when you have teams. You have to have a cast of misfits who don’t get along with each other but still have chemistry with one another. Throw in some racial slurs, add a fat guy if at all possible, blend, chill, and serve! Does this movie stray from that formula? Nay, I say! It embraces it! Sumo wrestlers! Black gangstas! Welsh soccer… people. Psycho ex-cops! A deaf dude that everyone picks on, but the team stands up for! Oh, and an ass of a regular quarterback, and his heroic, oh so nice to old ladies replacement. (probably Keanu Reeves’ most likeable character ever, by the way.)

Thankfully, the tired old formula works great, and you’ll find yourself cheering on our nutty heroes more than once. Actually, my brother and I became nearly rabid with excitement every time Bateman (Jon Favreau) stepped on the field with his eternally bleeding nose and started smashing people like the Incredible Hulk. We actually started yelling “Bateman! Bateman!”. We’re easily led. But look at Favreau in Swingers, and look at him here. You’d think they lobotomized him or something. It’s awesome.

What can I say? Football movies are about as original as Justin’s Canadian jokes. They’re never going to get any newer. But at least they can still be funny. (the football movies can, anyway) I got more out of this than I’d expected to, and I bet you will too.

I will not make an "I know kung fu" joke.

I will not make an “I know kung fu” joke.

Intermission!

  • Keanu Reeves, who gained 23 pounds for this role, was apparently able to throw the football about 15 yards when he first came into this film’s training camp. By the midway point of production, he was throwing some 50 or 60 yards downfield.
  • Washington runs their first play in the first game from the 7 yard line. They took a touchback on the opening kickoff, then took two five yard “delay of game” penalties. Therefore, the first play should have started on the 10 yard line.
  • Brandon Cotton sends in: “Not to nit pick, but I’m going to anyway. In the Didja notice section of Andie’s review of the Replacements, she comments about incorrect field placement after two 5-yard penalties. She’s actually incorrect. The first penalty would be five yards, placing the ball at the 15. The second penalty would be, because they are inside the 20 yard line, half the distance to the goal, instead of 5 yards, putting the ball on approximately the 7 yard line.”
  • PoolMan writes: “Does Andie get some kind of award for “Greatest Number of Legitimate Uses of the Word ‘Cum’ in a Review” for The Replacements?”
  • The Japanese name Fumiko is really a woman’s first name. Fumiko’s war cry, “Nan desu ka!” in Japanese actually means “What is it?”
  • Bateman’s nose keeps breaking and unbreaking throughout different scenes
  • Every once in a while, the very left-handed Falco throws right-handed
  • For some reason, when Martel crosses the picket line and comes back, Falco leaves the team completely. What the hell? A football team can have more than one QB. Look at the Buffalo Bills! Doug Flutie rocks!
  • Keanu Reeves plays a former quarterback from Ohio State. In Point Break, Reeves’s character was also a former quarterback from Ohio State.
  • Brooke Langton, who plays the head cheerleader in this movie, also played Nikki, the object of Jon Favreau’s affection in Swingers
  • How to sign “a-hole” in ASL
  • Reader Sam writes in: “Just so you can say you know someone who has lived on a houseboat, I have. I spent a year living in a small town in one of the southern-most areas of Louisiana. I lived on a houseboat and loved it. It had a huge kitchen and living room, two bathrooms, and ten bedrooms. It was a beautiful home and was docked a short walking distance from an old military fort, Fort Jackson. My father lived on a small cabin cruiser on the coast of North Carolina for a few years. My mother also lived on a boat for a few years going between Louisiana and Mississippi. So, in answer to the question posed… Yes, I do know someone who lives, or rather lived, on a boat and a houseboat.”

Groovy Quotes

Jimmy McGinty: You know what the difference is between a winner and a loser?
Shane Falco: The score.

[after Fumiko has leveled the tackling dummy]
Legs: That’ll do pig, that’ll do.

Shane Falco: Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.

Shane Falco: I wish I could say something classy and inspiring, but it wouldn’t be our style.

John Madden: I love to see a fat guy score.
Pat Summerall: Why?
John Madden: Because first you get a fat guy score, then you get the fat guy dance.

(this isn’t a word for word quote, but you get the idea, it’s hilarious)
McGinty: Bateman, I need you to get me the ball.
Bateman: You want me to get you the ball?
McGinty: Can you get me the ball?
Bateman: I can get you the ball!
McGinty: You’ll get me the ball?
Bateman: (excited) I’ll get you the ball!
McGinty: Go get the ball!
Bateman: (spitting excited, shouting) Go get the ball!!!
McGinty: Go get the ball!
Bateman: (yelling, eyes of fire) Go get the BALL!!! RRAAARRR!!!
(Bateman runs screaming onto the field)
McGinty: God, I hope he doesn’t kill someone.

Commentator: I think the Sentinels just set a record for penalties in the first three minutes. We’re still waiting for the stats on that.

Edward O’Neil: Give me a cigarette.
Jimmy McGinty: I quit.
Eward O’Neil: Nobody likes a quitter, Jimmy.

Nigel ‘The Leg’ Gruff: Hey Shane Falco! I lost a ton of money on that Sugar Bowl disaster of yours. What a bloody shambles that was. You could smell the stink all the way back in bloody Wales.
Shane Falco: Nice meeting you.

John Madden: According to the Sentinels, it says Ray Smith is — hey, that’s weird. No college given, no high school. It just says he’s been a resident of the state of Maryland for the last two years and two months, and that he likes to embroider.

Jimmy McGinty: A real man admits his fears. That’s what I’m asking you to do here tonight. Who wants to go first?
Clifford Franklin: I’m afraid of spiders, Coach.
Jimmy: I mean, what scares you on the FIELD?
Clifford: Spiders on the field?

Jimmy McGinty: Good hit. Danny, in practice we don’t hit the guys in the red shirts.
Bateman: I know, Coach, but I see that red and I just wanna go after it, like a bull, you know?

Dawn: Oh my God. I forgot to tell you something.
[long pause]
Heather: Oh, she does that all the time.

Fumiko: No disco! No disco!

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