‘The Replacements’ is an underrated comedy and a soothing tonic for those missing football

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Movies by - February 09, 2015
‘The Replacements’ is an underrated comedy and a soothing tonic for those missing football

Missing football already?  Yeah me too, however fresh out on Blu-Ray, it’s hard to believe that The Replacements is already 15 years old because it is still a fresh and fun comedy that doesn’t require you to be a fan of the gridiron in order to generate some genuine laughs.

The league has ground to a halt, as millionaire players are walking out of their high paying jobs in the hopes of earning an extra million or two and professional football is officially on strike with just a handful of games to go.  Rather than scrap the season, teams are bringing in replacement players who played football at the highest level at one stage or another in their lives.  Enter Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves) a former All American quarterback who blew it on the biggest stage in college football, right before blowing out his knee and going pro who is recruited by veteran coach Jimmy McGuinty (Gene Hackman) to lead his team of misfits.  Misfits that include a wide receiver with a fast mouth and even faster legs who can’t catch (Orlando Jones), a merciless middle linebacker who might be a little insane (Jon Favreau) and a nicotine crazed kicker (Rhys Ifans) among many others to push the team into the playoffs.  It’s even replacements for head cheerleader Annabelle Farrell (Brooke Langton) who is leading her squad of ex-strippers on the field to support the team and as Annabelle and Shane get closer, Shane learns the meaning of true success as he reminds his team “Pain heals, Chicks dig scars and Glory lasts forever”.

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An underrated but always fun film, “The Replacements” doesn’t always get mentioned in the pantheon of sports comedies, but it easily earns its place as a very likable piece of entertainment for any audience.

Director Howard Deutch is a serviceable hand as a storyteller and makes the lighthearted comedy work without resulting to any overtly hammy tricks and the script by Vince McKewin is an engaging and lighthearted affair.  It never stresses any genuine drama, except for on the football field as those sequences are incredibly well shot and allow for even a laymen to the sport to get engaged with the action.  The narrative never drags and from top to bottom, the entire ensemble is very likable as the jokes fly at a good clip and we always have a smile on our face.

Coming off the original Matrix picture, this was booked as an obvious change of pace for Keanu Reeves and it works to a tee.  Reverting back to his days as Ted Logan just a little bit, he doesn’t say a lot but he smiles and cracks a joke in all the right places which makes his Shane Falco an amiable guy, who all the girls want get with and the guys want to have a beer with.  He was the perfect choice for a lead in what is essentially a sports romantic comedy.  Gene Hackman who was coming towards the tail end of his career was good and the gruff but sensitive coach Jimmy McGunity and this might have actually been a career highlight for Brooke Langton as she never did much of note after this movie.  Rhys Ifans and Jon Favreau were fun in smaller roles and it marked one of the highest profile roles that Orlando Jones had ever gotten (and may still ever get).  No one stood out or over performed in this movie, but they all had a very solid sense of the material and it felt like that they were all having fun making this movie and that comes across on the screen, which allows us to enjoy it even more.

It’s not a movie that is ever going to light the world on fire, but it isn’t supposed to and for anyone looking to wean themselves off football, but not send the girlfriend running for the hills, then The Replacements is just the tonic for you as it does just the right amount to keep everyone happy and make sure they everyone had a good time.

Picture and sound quality on the BD are decent and the special features include two behind the scenes looks at the making of the film and a feature length commentary track from director Howard Deutch along with the theatrical trailer.

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.