The Replacements (film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Howard Deutch|
|Produced by||Dylan Sellers
|Written by||Vince McKewin|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Edited by||Seth Flaum
Bud S. Smith
Bel Air Entertainment
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|August 11, 2000|
The film opens with Shane Falco, a former star quarterback at Ohio State University who choked in his final college game and failed to succeed in the pros, doing his job cleaning the bottoms of peoples' boats. While underwater, he finds a metal trophy football labeled "Shane Falco: All American" and pretends he is playing football again. Meanwhile, the fictional Washington Sentinels are shown playing a game in which commentators John Madden and Pat Summerall mention a players' strike taking place over salary disputes. As the game winds down, Sentinels quarterback Eddie Martel chooses to slide to the ground instead of scoring the game winning touchdown to avoid getting injured.
Later that day, the owner of the Sentinels decides to hire Jimmy McGinty, the Sentinels' former coach who was fired after getting into a fight with the team's star quarterback, to recruit replacement players during the strike and coach the team for the rest of the season. He tells McGinty that all they need is three wins out of their final four games to advance to the playoffs. McGinty tells the owner he will only do it if he promises not to interfere with his coaching style. McGinty recruits many different ragtag players, and eventually convinces Falco to come off his boat and play quarterback again. Falco soon becomes attracted to the team's head cheerleader, Annabelle Farrell, who likes him as well, but doesn't want to date him because of her stereotype that all pro athletes are prima donnas.
In the Sentinels' first game using replacement players, they trail by four with only a few seconds left to play. McGinty calls a passing play, but Falco gets scared and changes the call to a running play. Cochran, the team's running back, gets tackled just before he reaches the end zone and the Sentinels lose. That night, the actual Sentinels players taunt the replacement players at a bar, leading to fight between the two teams. The replacement players get arrested, but are beginning to build team chemistry, which is something they lacked in the first game. The newfound team chemistry leads to a last second field goal victory in the next game, and then another last second victory the next week, leaving the team needing only one more victory to make the playoffs.
The team's owner tells McGinty that Eddie Martel has crossed the picket line and will be re-activated by the Sentinels for the final game of the season. McGinty protests at first, saying that he will use Falco as his quarterback, but the owner convinces him that the team cannot afford to have Falco choke with the game on the line, especially since they are playing the best team in the league who has had their entire team cross. A heartbroken McGinty tells Falco that he has been cut in favor of Martel, but Falco accepts the news, saying that it's best for the team since Martel is better than him, to which McGinty says that Falco has heart and Martel does not. Falco stands Annabelle up on a date because of his depression.
In the final game of the season, Martel has trouble connecting with the team due to his prima-donna attitude, and scolds them whenever he makes a mistake. At halftime, the Sentinels trail 17–0, and reporter asks McGinty what they will need to win the game, to which he replies "miles and miles of heart" meant as a message to Falco. Falco hears him say this and comes to the game during halftime, and the rest of the team kicks Martel out of the locker room. Falco runs onto the field at the start of the half and draws loud and thunderous applause from the fans. He apologizes to Annabelle and kisses her on national TV. Cochran is able to run for a touchdown at the beginning of the half before injuring his leg. The Sentinels then score again to cut the lead to 17–14. With only a few seconds left in the game, McGinty calls for a field goal to tie the score and then go into overtime. But when Nigel 'The Leg' Gruff, the kicker, gets set, he tells Falco that he cannot kick the field goal, because several men in the audience will "take his pub". Falco then takes the snap then runs it all the way for a touchdown, only to have it brought back for a holding call. Falco then goes to the sidelines and tells McGinty that he wants the ball, implying that he has gotten over his fear of choking with the game on the line. Falco throws a pass to tight end Brian Murphy for a touchdown, and the Sentinels win 20–17, advancing to the playoffs, and the Sentinels begin dancing in synchronized formation. The film ends with a voiceover from McGinty saying that when the players left the game that night, there were no endorsement deals or victory parades waiting for them, just a locker waiting to be cleaned out, but it didn't matter, because they each got a second chance at glory, which lasts forever.
- 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 barnacles and 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) — A firm believer in the power of the Lord. 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 defensive back/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 (LB) (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. 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 linemen 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 cannot 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're 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 first-string 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.
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 general 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."
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- The Replacements at the Internet Movie Database
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- The Replacements on American football movies