Kick Eddie in the Klumps, punch-out “Irene”, and let the air out of “Scary Movie” because the funniest movie of the 2000 summer movie season is “The Replacements”.
Keanu Reeves stars as washed out Quarterback Shane Falco is offered a second chance at stardom when Coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) offers him that chance when professional football faces a walkout.
The walkout cripples all the league franchises and the owners scramble to find “scabs” or “replacements” to finish off the last 4 games of the regular season.
McGinty uses a lot of ingenuity to assemble the biggest group of misfits he can put on the field. Some of those misfits include “Swingers” Jon Favreau as an unstable psychotic defensive lineman, Orlando Jones as butter-fingered sprinter, “Notting Hill’s” Rhys Ifans as a Welsh soccer striker as the field goal kicker and even a Sumo wrestler as an offensive lineman.
When it comes down to team-sport comedies the plot and stories are always very similar. A group of misfits are thrown together to overcome insurmountable odds. Some of those films include “Major League”, “Slap Shot”, “Mighty Ducks”, “Bad News Bears”, and “Necessary Roughness”.
“The Replacements” is a welcomed return to the magic that made these films so great. The writing is smart, funny and delectable. The cast is great in all the strange kinds of things they bring to the film. I loved to see that big Hollywood actors like Hackman and Reeves can interact among a great ensemble like this and never steal the limelight from some of the lesser known people.
This film is a riot and a welcomed departure from all the gross-out, over the top comedies of the past couple months. It’s refreshing in that the intermingling of the ensemble actually blend and compliment each other.
This full-blown chemistry will make you scream for this team to overcome their deficit. Another thing I liked about the film was its score and soundtrack which is so full of adrenaline and great songs of old.
The only flaw I found from this light-hearted film was the predictable script but it’s the cast that make this film soar over its script. They make it fun.
In some respects you may even appreciate life message that Gene Hackman tries to convey to his disheartened Quarterback. In one scene, Keanu is preparing for his first game and Hackman has a great line of inspiration. “I look at you and I see the man you are.
But I also see the man you could be. Someday those two men will meet and you will be one hell of a football player.” In a sports comedy as in life, lines like these are precious but for this critic this one of my favorite lines of the summer.
I really hope the masses give this little movie a look because it’s a gem in a crowded movie season.
(4 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.
Written: August 7, 2000