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Yvonne de la Vega,
A comedy based on the 1987 professional football players' strike. Gene Hackman plays the coach of the team, Jack Warden is the owner, Brett Cullen is the All-Pro quarterback that goes on strike and Keanu Reeves is the "scab" who replaces the star QB. Written by
Though the film is not supposed to be connected to the actual 1987 NFLPA strike, there are some similarities between the film depiction of the Washington team, and the actual Redskin team:
1. The teams played by the Washington in the film mirror the teams the Redskins played during the 1987 scab games (including a Dallas team where all the regular starters crossed the picket line and returned).
2. Shane Falco wears the number 16. Redskins replacement quarterback Ed Ruppert (who played college ball at Louisville) wore that number. Ruppert managed to last three seasons as an Arena Football League QB at Albany.
3. The Redskins did have a player named Tony Robinson, who had just been released from prison prior to making the replacement team. The film depiction features a player who's on work release to play for the team.
"There is no tomorrow for you, and that makes you very dangerous people."
Those are the words of coach (Hackman) before the final regular season game for the "replacement" players, filling in for the striking regulars. The "never-been" QB (Keanu Reeves) must try to lead them to victory.
"The Replacements" is primarily a good screwball comedy, in the vein of, but significantly better than, "Best of Show" and "The Waterboy." Some may even take a "message" away, about the importance of teamwork, belief in oneself, true love (QB and the head cheerleader). But that is all secondary.
I rate this one highly for pure escapism entertainment, but also with good acting by Reeves and Hackman, and some almost-believable football action, heavily interlaced with goofiness. The lap-dancers turned cheerleaders, who totally distract the opposing team. The tag-team vomiting during the huddle, after the Japanese sumo wrestler eats too many eggs before the game ("I gotta beef up!") The cop who, like in the "Waterboy", can get enraged (Coach says, "I want you to get me the ball," and he does.) The Welsh kicker who is "wirr-rrry strong" and smokes a cigarette while kicking. The "I will survive" dance in jail, after the barroom brawl with the 'regulars.'
To make a good screwball comedy, the writer and director have to walk a fine line and here they do it well. John Madden and Pat Summerall, playing announcers, are genuinely funny. The DVD picture, and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, are up to standards.
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