"Penalty Flag on the Play"
What You Need To Know:
THE REPLACEMENTS maintains viewer interest most of the way with funny happenings, lots of sports action and good performances by nearly all concerned. Although this is light summer fare, that doesn’t mean the filmmakers don’t insert a couple messages along with the fun. The deepest of these messages is the idea that “Glory lasts forever.” There’s even a Christian player who admonishes one of his fellow players to praise Christ’s glory when he utters a profanity. Despite its positive qualities, THE REPLACEMENTS contains lots of strong foul language and scenes where scantily-clad cheerleaders do sexually suggestive dance moves
(B, PaPa, Ho, C, LLL, VV, S, N, AA, D, M) Mild moral worldview with pagan elements, jokes made about lesbian dance moves & a minor Christian character joins in the comedy but leaves the field in a dignified manner; at least 80 obscenities, including a couple “f” words, & 11 profanities, plus a scene where two football players vomit; moderate football violence often played for laughs & a big fight scene in bar between some “good” guys & some “bad” guys played for laughs; cheerleaders, some hired from a local strip bar, perform suggestive dance moves, including lesbian ones, to distract enemy football players & to get cheerleading jobs, players perform suggestive dance moves & passionate kissing; upper male nudity in locker room, players sometimes loosely wear towels in locker room, player flashes other players but viewers only see his backside covered by a towel, & cheerleaders dress in skimpy outfits, revealing much cleavage; alcohol use & drunkenness; smoking; and, vandalism, betrayal & some bad attitudes.
Keanu Reeves (SPEED and THE MATRIX) stars as a football quarterback in THE REPLACEMENTS, a sports comedy that has a lot in common with the MAJOR LEAGUE baseball movies. A simple summer popcorn movie, THE REPLACEMENTS still manages to convey the star quality and appealing sensitivity that Keanu has been able to evoke in his latest roles. It also displays the reliable talents of the venerable Gene Hackman, who remains one of America’s most interesting actors.
The story opens with the elderly owner of the Washington Sentinels, played by Jack Warden, asking Hackman’s Coach McGinty to form a team of replacement players during a players’ strike in the National Football League. McGinty agrees, but only if he’s given full control.
Instead of picking minor league players, McGinty settles upon a bunch of would-be players who never quite made it to the big time, for reasons not solely of their own making. For instance, one of the tight ends is deaf! Keanu plays a talented quarterback named Shane Falco who had a terrible outing in a major college football game because his team didn’t protect him well enough from the defending players.
This team of misfits has a tough time getting started, but eventually the team comes together. In fact, they become good enough that they just might be able to help the Sentinels get into the playoffs for the first time in years.
As in most sports movies, the big game comes along at the end of the movie. This time, however, the team’s mean-spirited star quarterback, who went on strike and has been harassing Falco throughout the movie, offers a special challenge to the replacements, especially their cohesion as a team.
The best scene in this movie comes less than halfway through when some members of the replacement team get in a fight with the players on strike. Falco challenges the striking players when one of them picks on the deaf player. After the fight, the replacements are sent to jail for the night. In jail, the wide receiver, Clifford Franklin, played by a very funny Orlando Jones, starts singing the disco hit “I Will Survive” by Donna Summer, a song which one of the other players hates with a passion. Clifford keeps singing the song anyway. When the rest of the players start to join in the singing, everyone begins to dance along, including Falco. This is a very funny, touching scene that provides the turning point to the rest of the story. It shows, in an entertaining way, that the replacement players have finally come together as a team, and maybe they can play well enough to jump start their professional football careers.
Although one wishes there were more moments like this in the rest of the movie, THE REPLACEMENTS maintains viewer interest most of the way with funny happenings and lots of sports action. Helping to add spice to the movie are some really nice, though maybe not great, performances by the rest of the cast beyond Reeves and Hackman. For instance, Brooke Langton does an extremely appealing turn as Annabelle, the part-time, head cheerleader who falls for Falco. Annabelle displays both an alert mind and a heart of compassion to go with her good looks. Falco impresses Annabelle. “You’re the first quarterback I’ve seen who cares about his teammates more than he does about himself,” she tells him admiringly. Best of all, the movie keeps Annabelle and Falco’s relationship almost totally chaste, even though the sexual dance moves that Annabelle’s cheerleaders make help earn a PG-13 rating for THE REPLACEMENTS.
THE REPLACEMENTS is light summer fare, but that does not mean the filmmakers don’t insert a couple messages along with the fun. Like the famous play, DAMN YANKEES, THE REPLACEMENTS insists, “Ya gotta have heart,” several times during its running length. At one point, after jokingly saying “Pain heals” and “Chicks dig scars,” Falco tells his teammates, “Glory lasts forever.” Coach McGinty reiterates this theme at the end of the movie when he sums up what the replacement team has accomplished. Adding to these positive messages is the fact that one of the players is also a Christian. Although, like the other players surrounding Falco, he joins in the comedy, he leaves the field in a dignified manner that presents a good role model for the faith he preaches. He even admonishes one of his fellow players to praise Christ’s glory when he utters a profanity.
Despite its positive qualities, THE REPLACEMENTS contains lots of strong foul language, including some strong profanities. MOVIEGUIDE® strongly cautions readers about this content and about the sexual dances performed by some of the cheerleaders at times. Can anyone with true intelligence doubt the fact that spending less time thinking up this kind of objectionable material means that the filmmakers could concentrate more time improving the movie’s story, characters and messages and creating more laughs that the whole family can enjoy?
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