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December 2000


The Replacements
Rated: PG-13

CAST: Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton, Jon Favreau, Orlando Jones, Faizon Love, Michael Taliferro, Ace Yonamine, Rhys Ifans, Jack Warden

DIRECTOR: Howard Deutch


After talks between owners and players for a new collective bargaining agreement break down, professional football heads to the picket lines just in time for the playoff stretch run. Rather than giving in to the player’s demands, Washington Sentinels’ owner Edward O’Neil ( Jack Warden) fires his coach, brings in popular former coach Jimmy McGinty (Hackman) and fields a team of replacement players. The Sentinels’ locker room is quickly filled with a quirky group of has-beens, would-have-beens and never-has-beens, in hopes of salvaging a playoff spot. McGinty is given complete control over the team and selects former college star Shane Falco (Reeves) to quarterback his team. Falco was one of the sports greatest prospects until he failed to perform during the Sugar Bowl, college football’s most prestigious game. Labelled a choker, Falco disappeared into a secluded houseboat and a much quieter life.

The ragtag group of replacements must find a way to gel and become a team if they want any chance to make it to the post-season. At first, they look destined to drop to the bottom of the standings. It’s up to coach McGinty and Falco to provide the leadership to bring the new Sentinels together.

The obligatory romance comes in the form of the team’s head cheerleader, Annabelle Farrell ( Brooke Langton) falling for the quarterback. The two hit it off and Annabelle offers some invaluable tips to Falco so that his head won’t get knocked off by a vicious tackle, and other pointers on how to run the on-field offence.


Taking a script straight out of the playbook of other underdog sports films such as Major League and Bad News Bears, comes The Replacements. Although the finished product is far from original, this movie still manages to squeak out a winner.

The Replacements is a featherweight comedy that succeeds in becoming what it wants to be – light and fluffy. The tale of the underdog has always been a popular one, so a couple times a year, the concept gets recycled in the form of a sports film. Most of the jokes come from the oddball cast of stereotypes mixing things up and taking part in locker room antics. It’s hard not to cheer for a team that includes a Sumo wrestler as loveable as a teddy bear, a chain-smoking Welsh soccer player and a set of overweight gangster twins.

The movie also manages to tackle the pertinent – and moderately serious – subject of professional athlete loyalty in a world of ever-skyrocketing sports salaries. Although the exploration could have gone much deeper than it does, the movie at least manages to scrape the surface.


The Replacements is an easily enjoyable piece of comedy. There’s nothing substantial or particularly original here, but would you honestly expect anything more from a film with Keanu Reeves as the quarterback and Gene Hackman as the coach?

Ryan Cracknell -
Apollo Guide