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Despite the fact that this film is a totally unoriginal and predictable
retread of a dozen `losers to winners' sports stories, it is so hysterically
funny that I didn't even care. The story is thin at best. The NFL is
having a players strike and scabs are called in to finish the season. Our
heroes are low on ability but high on desire and peculiarity. The
quarterback, Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), once had a promising career, but he
fell apart psychologically when his team was pummelled in a college bowl
game and he was labelled a player that folds in the big game. Of course,
while visiting the NFL, Shane falls in love with the head cheerleader
(Brooke Langton) who never dates players (except of course this once).
All this is merely a mundane excuse for a raucous and silly comedy that has
some sidesplitting moments. To enjoy this film you really need two things.
You need to love football and you need to enjoy slapstick, banana peel
comedy. I realize that this limits the audience considerably, but for those
who qualify (and I am one), this movie is a scream.
Director Howard Deutch (Pretty in Pink, Grumpier Old Men) did a great job on
the football sequences. He hired 45 professional football players (Former
NFL players, Canadian Football League, etc.) to do the football scenes and
sent the actors to a three-week football camp. The action looked real
because it was real. The players were told to play and hit the way they
normally would. Of course, the plays were choreographed, but they were real
The comedy was lowbrow, outrageous and crass, with a great deal of physical
comedy. The cheerleader scenes were a riot, especially the cheerleader
tryouts. The scene where they started pantomiming sex acts to distract the
opposing team was priceless. There was also sharp-witted football humor
that required more than just a passing knowledge of the game.
There isn't much serious that can be said about the acting. Keanu Reeves
tried to play an earnest comeback and romantic role amidst all the
foolishness and it really didn't fit with the rest of the film. However, he
was an excellent athlete. He did most of his own on-field shots and looked
very believable as the quarterback. Gene Hackman was good when he was
making snappy wisecracks, but his inspirational `Hoosiers' imitation was
This film really belonged to the supporting actors like Orlando Jones
(Clifford Franklin), Michael Taliferro and Faizon Love (The Jackson Twins),
Ace Yonamine (Jumbo Fumiko), Rhys Ifans (Nigel `The Leg' Gruff) and all the
cheerleaders who made the comedy work. Jon Favreau gets a special mention
as the crazy S.W.A.T. officer turned linebacker who took the wild man role
to the next level.
This film won't be fun for everyone, but it will have certain people falling
off their chairs. I rated it an 8/10. Subtract two points if you aren't
amused by slapstick and boorish behavior, and another two if you aren't a
football fan. For the rest of you, be prepared to split a gut.
Tags for The Replacements Full Movie
, Gene Hackman
, Keanu Reeves
, Orlando Jones
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