The Replacements (film)

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The Replacements
Replacements ver3.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHoward Deutch
Produced byDylan Sellers
Written byVince McKewin
Music byJohn Debney
CinematographyTak Fujimoto
Edited bySeth Flaum
Bud S. Smith
Bel Air Entertainment
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • August 11, 2000 (2000-08-11)
Running time
118 minutes
Budget$50 million[1]
Box office$50.1 million[1]

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 is hit with a players' strike with four games left in the season. Washington Sentinels[2][3] owner Edward O'Neil calls a former coach of his, Jimmy McGinty, asking McGinty to coach the Sentinels' replacement players for the rest of the season, adding that winning three of the last four games will get the Sentinels into the playoffs. McGinty accepts, on the condition that he can sign the players he wants without O'Neil's interference.

McGinty pulls together players of varying talents who 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; he now lives on a houseboat in a D.C. marina and makes a living doing hull maintenance on private yachts. Falco initially refuses, but McGinty persuades him, believing that Falco can still become the player he was meant to be. The replacement players are greeted at their first practice with hostility from the striking players, who call them "scabs" and throw 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 walked out in sympathy with the players, 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 with each other. Falco tries to rally them, 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, the replacements are brooding over their loss when some of the striking players, led by their prima donna quarterback Eddie Martel, arrive and taunt them. When Falco stands up to Martel, a brawl follows, and the replacements are arrested, but while in jail they build a bond, dancing together to the Gloria Gaynor song "I Will Survive" in their cell before McGinty bails them out. Annabelle meets Shane the next day and tells him that he's the first quarterback she's seen in a long time who cares more for his teammates than himself, and a connection starts to grow between them.

The next day, in a "chalk talk", when McGinty asks the players what their fears are, they begin to realize they're all afraid of failing in their second chance at football. McGinty inspires the team to use their shared fear as a source of strength. In the Sentinels' next game against San Diego, they fall behind again but are able to come together and win on a 65-yard field goal by their Welsh kicker, Nigel. Falco meets Annabelle at the bar which she inherited from her father and now runs. After a short conversation and a beer, they share a deep kiss.

The Sentinels nearly lose their next game on the road against Phoenix, but win on a couple of improbable plays. When they return to D.C., O'Neil tells McGinty that Martel has crossed the picket line, and that the entire Dallas team -- the league's defending champions and the Sentinels' next opponent -- have crossed as well. O'Neil shows no confidence in Falco being able to beat Dallas, and hints to McGinty that he could be fired if he refuses to start Martel. McGinty gives in and tells Falco, saying that he has the "heart" that Martel lacks; Falco then must give his teammates the news. Too downcast to face Annabelle, he stands her up for the date they had planned.

In the first half of the final crucial game, Martel clashes severely with the replacement players, blaming them for his own mistakes, and smugly ignores any play calls McGinty makes, causing the Sentinels to trail Dallas 17–0. On the way to the locker room for halftime, McGinty tells a TV reporter that what the team needs to come back and win is "miles and miles of heart". Falco, watching this on television, returns to the stadium, and McGinty promptly benches Martel for Falco. The rest of the team throws Martel out of the locker room. Back on the field, Falco finds Annabelle and apologizes to her, giving her another deep kiss.

McGinty tells the replacements that the strike will officially end the next day, encouraging them to give everything they have left. The Sentinels rally back to a 17–14 score, with less than a minute left in the game. 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. McGinty narrates that the replacement players left the field with nothing but the satisfaction and personal glory of living the athlete's dream of a "second chance," as the replacements dance on the field as they did earlier in the movie.


  • Keanu Reeves as Shane Falco #16 (QB) — A former All-American left-handed quarterback for Ohio State who fell off the grid after choking in the 1996 Sugar Bowl and washing out of the pros after one season.
  • Gene Hackman as Jimmy McGinty — 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.
  • Brooke Langton as Annabelle Farrell — Head cheerleader for the Washington Sentinels and owner of a bar on 8th Street in Washington.
  • Orlando Jones as Clifford Franklin #81 (WR) — A stockboy in a mini mart who can outrun anyone, but can barely catch anything.
  • Faizon Love as Jamal Abdul Jackson #72 (G)
  • Michael Taliferro as André "Action" Jackson #73 (G)
    • 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 would have remained in the pros had they not fallen apart after one got traded.
  • Ace Yonamine as Jumbo Fumiko #68 (OT) — A Japanese sumo wrestler turned offensive tackle with a passion for food.
  • Troy Winbush as Walter Cochran #34 (RB) — An ordained minister who 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.
  • David Denman as Brian Murphy #86 (TE) — A tight end from Gallaudet University who would have been a first round draft pick had he not been born deaf. He 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 leads to a bar fight.
  • Jon Favreau as Daniel "Danny" Bateman #56 (MLB) — 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.
  • Michael Jace as Earl Wilkinson aka "Ray Smith" #42 (CB) — 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, albeit under an alias to avoid the controversy of having a convicted felon in the league.
  • Rhys Ifans as Nigel Gruff #3 (K) — 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.
  • Gailard Sartain & Art LaFleur as Pilachowski and Banes (respectively) — Jimmy McGinty's coaching staff. Skeptical about the replacement players, they nevertheless follow McGinty's recommendations and find ways to work with them.
  • Brett Cullen as Eddie Martel #7 — Regular starting quarterback for the Washington Sentinels, two time Super Bowl winner, and primary antagonist of the film.
  • Archie L. Harris, Jr. as Wilson Carr.
  • Evan Dexter Parke as Malcolm LaMont.
  • John Madden and Pat Summerall portray themselves, offering commentary on all the games.
  • Jack Warden as Edward O'Neil — 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.
  • Sarah Ann Morris as Heather and Caroline Keenan as Dawn — Two dancers from the "Pussycat" ("You know, the club near the airport") 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 them to ask several of their co-workers to the tryouts.


M&T Bank Stadium, then PSI-Net Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, was used as the Sentinels' stadium.

Comparisons to real events[edit]

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 and went 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 controversy between Doug Williams and Jay Schroeder. Hackman would later serve as the narrator for the 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.

There are multiple other instances in the film where typical football rules and strategy are inaccurate. For example, in one scene, Falco is seen on the Sentinels kickoff team; outside of rare exceptions, first-string quarterbacks are not used on special teams. In the same scene, the announcers indicate that after recovering the onside kick, the Sentinels needed to call a timeout. After a kickoff, the clock stops, a rule that is used in all levels of football.


Box office[edit]

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 $44.7 million domestically and $5.3 million internationally to over $50 million worldwide.[1]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 41% based on 108 reviews, with an average rating of 4.96/10. The website's critical consensus states: "The clichéd characters and obvious outcome make all the fun and excitement amount to nothing."[4] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 30 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[5]

Yet despite this low score from Metacritic critics, Metacritic users scored the film an 8.6 out of 10, indicating "universal acclaim".[5] Furthermore, audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, and 91% of Google reviewers liked the film, strongly suggesting that everyday viewers found the film far more appealing than did film critics, despite the film's formulaic plot and various other flaws.[6][7]

Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, writing that the film was "Slap-happy entertainment painted in broad strokes, two coats thick."[8]


  1. ^ a b c "The Replacements (2000) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  2. ^ "TELEVISION & FILM HELMETS – THE REPLACEMENTS (2000)". Retrieved 2013-01-11.
  3. ^ "Movie/TV helmets". Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
  4. ^ "The Replacements (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "The Replacements". Metacritic. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  6. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Replacements" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  7. ^ "The Replacements - Google Search". Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  8. ^ Roger Ebert (August 11, 2000). "The Replacements Movie Review (2000)".

External links[edit]