Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The Replacements (2000)

Former college quarterback-turned-goat Shane Falco (the inscrutable Keanu Reeves) is recruited by coach Jimmy McGinty (the irrepressible Gene Hackman) to lead a team of rag-tag scab players during a pro-football player's strike. If the Washington Sentinels win just 3 of 4 games, why, they'll make the playoffs! It's up to Falco to huddle his players (a fraidy-cat running back, a Hawaiian sumo guard, a chain-smoking Welsh kicker, among others) to victory, and bag the hot cheerleader (the irresistible Brooke Langton) on the sidelines. Plot? What plot? What works about silly comedies like The Replacements -- or, say, Galaxy Quest (1999), or Major League, (1989), or Clue (1985) -- is the ensemble nature: the loony-but-lovable characters provide the primary engine for the film; watching them interact, the audience understands there's either no story, or a story not worth following too closely. In other words, sometimes cardboard tastes good. Would make a great sports romp double-feature alongside Slap Shot (1977).

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