Keanu Reeves thrilled audiences in The Matrix, and now he's trying to make them laugh in The Replacements, a movie about an underrated team of misfits trying to make it to the playoffs. Sound familiar?
It should, because the football aspect of the movie plays about the same as anything other sports movie in the history of the world. The first game, they lose because they aren't prepared, then they go on a winning streak, and the important win comes down to the final moments in the final game. There is nothing real exciting about the football, because it's not very in-your-face, and it really isn't that realistic. Reeves, as Shane Falco, pulls off a lot of plays that the real teams don't use... for a reason.
Anyway, if people are going to this movie, they aren't expecting to see Any Given Sunday; they are expecting to see a football comedy. The Replacements does have a lot of funny moments, but it is a little disappointing. There are a lot of drags where the movie isn't boring but it isn't funny either, and it is sort of a let down because that's what I went to the theater to see. I like football as much as the next guy, but I didn't really give a damn about the football in The Replacements. It's been seen before, and that's not bad (you can only do so many things with sports movies), but as a comedy this film could have used more time off the field. If the football games had been given a back seat to the comedy (giving Reeves and the others enough time to have their glory, but not playing out the games as much as they do on screen), The Replacements would be a lot more refreshing and a lot better.
Furthermore, there are a lot of jokes played out on the field itself, but to me it looked as though these guys just weren't acting very professional. The characters never seemed stunned that they are playing pro football, and they don't act like it (if I were brought up to play in the big leagues, I would take it really serious whether I was a replacement player or not). Some comedy can be used on the field but most of it should have been used more cleverly off the field.
In The Replacements, about half the movie is on the field and half the movie is off. Fifteen percent would be good enough for the football side of the film if done right, giving more time for the characters to interact and entertain. The biggest part of the off screen stuff, the growing relationship between Reeves and Brook Langton (who plays the beautiful head cheerleader), didn't seem very developed to me. There was a little conflict in the beginning where Langton said she didn't date football players, but her act didn't last long. Also, once they get together partway through the film, their relationship is given a backseat to the game. Realistically, is the final game in the movie that suspenseful? The team is down 17-0 at half time. What do you expect them to do? Keep losing like that? No, they're going to come back and win, or at least get really close (like in Mystery, Alaska).
The Replacements is mildly entertaining and fairly funny, but it didn't satisfy any of my cravings. This is the second movie in a row that advertised itself as being sexy (the first being Coyote Ugly) but turned out not to be. The Replacements also advertised itself as being really funny, and while there are some laugh-out-loud scenes, there really isn't much that's new. The Replacements is worth seeing, but not worth cutting in line to get a ticket.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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