The Replacements (film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Howard Deutch|
|Written by||Vince McKewin|
|Music by||John Debney|
Bud S. Smith
Bel Air Entertainment
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|August 11, 2000|
|Box office||$50.1 million|
The Replacements is a 2000 American sports comedy film directed by Howard Deutch. It stars Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton, Jon Favreau and Jack Warden in what would be his last film appearance.
A fictional pro football league finds themselves hit with a players' strike with the season still needing to be finished. Washington Sentinels owner Edward O'Neil calls a former coach of his, Jimmy McGinty, telling McGinty that he and the rest of the teams are going to finish the final four games of the season with replacement players. O'Neil asks McGinty to coach the Sentinels the rest of the season, along with the pressure of winning three of the last four games to make the playoffs. McGinty accepts, on the condition that he will also be given the freedom to sign the players he wants with O'Neil not allowed to interfere.
With O'Neil accepting his requests, McGinty builds his team of different varying players that he believes can make a winning team. As his quarterback, McGinty chooses Shane Falco, a former All-American from Ohio State whose career went to pieces after a horrendous Sugar Bowl game, and now lives in a houseboat near the Sentinels' stadium. Falco initially refuses, but McGinty convinces him, believing that Falco can still be the player he was meant to be. The replacement players are greeted to their first practice hostilely by the striking players, calling the replacements "scabs", and throwing eggs at them, and Falco, who arrives late, gets his truck turned over. Head cheerleader Annabelle Ferrell, who has to find new cheerleaders since the originals apparently went on strike as well, reluctantly hires strippers when the other tryouts go terribly bad. After practice, Annabelle drives Falco home and surprises him with her vast football knowledge.
The replacements' first game is against Detroit, and the team initially struggles to get along, causing the Sentinels to fall behind early. Falco tries to rally the team back, but on the last play, he panics when he sees a pending blitz and calls an audible, which falls short of the winning touchdown. McGinty berates Falco for what he did, telling him that "winners always want the ball when the game's on the line." At a local bar, several of the replacements lament over their loss, when several of the striking players, led by their prima donna quarterback Eddie Martel, arrive and taunt the replacements. When Falco stands up to Martel, a brawl follows, leading to the replacements being arrested, but they build a bond in the process, dancing together in their cell before McGinity bails them out. Annabelle meets Shane the next day, having heard what happened, and tells him that he's the first quarterback she's seen in a long time be so selfless, and a connection starts to grow with the two of them.
In the Sentinels' next game against San Diego, they fall behind again but are able to come together once again, and this time win, on a 65-yard field goal by their kicker, a Welsh soccer player named Nigel Gruff. Falco meets Annabelle again, where she runs a bar her father used to own and admits that she was raised with football. After sharing a short conversation and having a beer together, they consummate their feelings for one another, sharing a deep kiss. The Sentinels nearly lose their next game on the road against Phoenix, but win on a couple of improbable plays.
When the Sentinels return to DC, O'Neil tells McGinty that Eddie Martel has crossed the picket line, and points out that the entire team of the league's defending champions, and the Sentinels' next opponent, Dallas, have crossed as well. O'Neil shows no confidence in Falco being able to beat Dallas, and hints to McGinity that he could be fired if McGinty refuses to start Martel. McGinty gives in and reluctantly tells Falco, who then tells his teammates the same thing, demoralizing the team. Falco is toasted by his teammates, but unable to face Annabelle after what happened, Falco leaves her stood up for their planned date.
In the first half of the final crucial game, Martel clashes severely with the replacement players, and also smugly ignores any play calls McGinty makes, causing the Sentinels fall behind to Dallas 17–0. The hometown fans, who had initially despised the replacements, now boo Martel, having accepted Falco as their favorite. On the way to the locker room for halftime, McGinty tells a TV reporter that the team needs "heart" to come back and win, something he had earlier said Falco had. Falco, watching this on television, returns to the stadium, and McGinty promptly benches Martel for Falco. Martel angrily tells Falco that he will never be known as anything but a replacement player. Falco says he can live with that and the rest of the team throws Martel out of the stadium. On his way back to the field, Falco finds Annabelle and apologizes to her, giving her another deep kiss in front of the crowd and other cheerleaders.
McGinty tells the replacements that the strike will officially end the next day, giving the players incentive to give everything they have left. The Sentinels rally back to a 17-14 score, with Gruff being called to kick the game-tying field goal late in the game. However, Gruff spots bookies that he owes money to in the crowd, and realizes that they want him to throw the game or they'll take his pub from him as compensation. He hints this to Falco just before the kick, and Falco pulls the ball away, causing Gruff to fall from the momentum of his kicking motion and break his arm. Falco initially scores the apparent winning touchdown, but it's called back on a Sentinels penalty. With Gruff unable to continue, Falco tells McGinty that he "wants the ball", affirming what McGinty had told him before. Falco calls for a deep pass to the replacements' deaf tight end, Brian Murphy, and hits him with the game-winning touchdown pass as time expires, earning the Sentinels a playoff berth. Falco celebrates with Annabelle, while McGinty narrates that the replacement players left the field with nothing but the satisfaction and personal glory of what they've accomplished, which is living the athlete's dream of a "second chance." He then watches the replacements dance on the field to the Gloria Gaynor song "I Will Survive".
- Nigel Gruff #3 (K) (Rhys Ifans) — A Welsh footballer and pub owner, nicknamed "The Leg" because he can kick a football the entire length of the playing field. He also has a tendency to smoke on the field and has a crippling gambling addiction.
- Shane Falco #16 (QB) (Keanu Reeves) — Former quarterback whose career was a constant struggle after he choked during the 1996 Sugar Bowl at Ohio State. Falco was given the nickname "Footsteps" for his failure to complete passes and his tendency to dump the ball quickly to avoid the hit from the defense that his weak offensive line could not stop. He now lives on a boat and earns his living scraping other debris off the boats tied at the marina, but is given a second chance when recruited by the Washington Sentinels to play quarterback during an official players strike.
- Walter Cochran #34 (RB) (Troy Winbush) — An ordained minister. Cochran played one game in the pros and blew out his knee. He repeats this major injury as a replacement player on the Sentinels during the final game after diving into the end zone for a touchdown.
- Earl Wilkinson aka "Ray Smith" #42 (CB) (Michael Jace) — A former star cornerback and kick returner, serving a prison sentence for assaulting a police officer. He's allowed to play with the permission of the governor of Maryland.
- Daniel "Danny" Bateman #56 (MLB) (Jon Favreau) — A reserved, almost reticent man during normal interaction with people, but when placed in an adversarial situation, goes completely berserk, particularly if he sees the color red. Linebacker and defensive captain. He was a walk on player at Michigan State and later a Gulf War veteran during which he was awarded a Purple Heart. Current member of the Washington D.C. SWAT team.
- Jumbo Fumiko #68 (OT) (Ace Yonamine) — A Japanese sumo wrestler turned offensive tackle with a passion for food.
- The Jackson Brothers — Brothers and former offensive guards turned bodyguards for rapper ODB who only seem to excel when they play on the same team. Both of these brothers would have remained in the pros had it not been for one being traded and then they both fell apart and left the pros.
- Clifford Franklin #81 (WR) (Orlando Jones) — A stockboy in a mini mart who can outrun anyone, but can barely catch anything.
- Brian Murphy #86 (TE) (David Denman) — A tight end who would have been a first round draft pick had he not been born deaf. Ends up playing a major role in the team both on the field and off, scoring the game-winning touchdown and sparking the conversation that sparks a bar fight.
- Annabelle Farrell (Brooke Langton) — Head cheerleader for the Washington Sentinels and owner of a bar on 8th Street in Washington.
- Heather (Sarah Ann Morris) — One of two strippers who come to try out for the Sentinels' cheerleading squad during the strike. They are accepted because the other people trying out are terrible (Annabelle also invites several of their "Co-workers" to the team).
- Dawn (Caroline Keenan) — The second of the two strippers who come to try out for the Sentinels' cheerleading squad during the strike. She appears to play the role of the ditzy blonde that always forgets things and spaces out.
- Edward O'Neil (Jack Warden) — Owner of the Washington Sentinels. O'Neil is the epitome of the double-talking, manipulative businessman who is only interested in accolades and doesn't think twice about reneging on a deal if it will earn him a more desirable result.
- Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) — Former head coach of the Washington Sentinels. Once fired from his coaching job by O'Neil, he is asked back to coach the replacement players. Seeing this as an opportunity to put together his personal fantasy football team, McGinty offers his recruits a chance at glory and truly believes in his players.
- Eddie Martel #7 (Brett Cullen) — Regular starting quarterback for the Washington Sentinels, two time Super Bowl winner, and primary antagonist of the drama.
- Pilachowski and Banes (Gailard Sartain & Art LaFleur, respectively) — Jimmy McGinty's coaching staff. Skeptical about the replacement players, they nevertheless follow McGinty's recommendations and find ways to work with the ragtag group of players.
- John Madden and Pat Summerall portray themselves, offering commentary on all the games.
Comparisons to real events
The movie was loosely based on the 1987 NFL strike, specifically the Washington Redskins, who won all three replacement games without any of their regular players, going on to win Super Bowl XXII at the end of the season. Though the film is a story of the replacement players, the Falco-Martel QB controversy is quite similar to the one experienced by the post-strike Redskins between Doug Williams and Jay Schroeder. Hackman would later serve as the narrator for episode of the NFL Network's America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions devoted to that team.
The multiple-fumble touchdown for the Sentinels against the Phoenix team was based on the real-life Holy Roller between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers in 1978. John Madden, who along with Pat Summerall played himself throughout the movie and was "calling" the Sentinels's touchdown in detail, was the head coach of the Raiders at the time of the Holy Roller play. The National Football League changed the rules for the 1979 NFL season only allowing the fumbling player to advance the ball on fourth down or on any play after the two-minute warning in either half. However, since Shane Falco was the one who fumbled the ball at the start of the play and is the only one who advances it the play would have been legal in real life.
The film opened at the third position at the North American box office making $11,039,214 USD in its opening weekend, behind Space Cowboys and Hollow Man which was on its second consecutive week at the top spot. It eventually grossed $44 million domestically and $6 million internationally to over $50 million worldwide.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film maintains a 40% approval rating from critics, the critical consensus saying "The cliched characters and obvious outcome make all the fun and excitement amount to nothing." On the similar site, Metacritic, the film has a score of 30/100.
Roger Ebert gave the film 2/4 stars, writing that the film was "Slap-happy entertainment painted in broad strokes, two coats thick."
- "TELEVISION & FILM HELMETS – THE REPLACEMENTS (2000)". Misterhabs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "Movie/TV helmets". Mghelmets.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "The Replacements". International Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
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