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The real professional football players are on strike, and the Washington Sentinels hire a former coach and use "scab" players for several weeks as the strive to reach the playoffs.
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Starring Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, and Brooke Langton, the Replacements explores the world of strike football at the professional level. Keanu Reeves plays Shane Falco, a great former college quarterback who blew the big game and has accepted his life as a professional plankton cleaner. Basically, Shane has given up on his dream of playing professional football, and more importantly, given up on life. From the opening scene, we can see that Shane still wishes to play football, when he is under the water cleaning the plankton off the yachts, and he finds an old football. Shane begins calling plays and slings the ball across the water. However, because of his great collapse on a huge stage in college, Shane never caught on with a pro team and his life has continued to flounder ever since. That is until Coach McGinty (Gene Hackman) shows up on his boat begging him to come play professional football while the real players are on strike.
At first, Shane is reluctant to join the team, but due to some great persuasion and an understood respect for Coach McGinty, Shane decides to take the opportunity and make good upon it. Under Coach McGinty and his old school approach to coaching, Falco and the "Replacement" Washington Sentinels begin finding success both on and off the field. Falco is no exception as he grows into an excellent quarterback and exceptional leader. Off the field, he befriends and falls for Annabelle Farrell (Brooke Langton), who is the captain of the cheerleading squad and an avid and informed Sentinel fan.
As the film progresses, the Replacements find themselves subject of ridicule from the regular players and heroes to a city beginning to believe in them. They continue to follow the direction of Coach McGinty, and they strive to become the players they've always dreamed of being during the brief window of opportunity given to them.
The Replacements, for all intensive purposes, is a complete parody of professional football. It, in my opinion, accurately depicts how ridiculous some players have become and how football is the least important aspect of many players' lives. Celebrity, fame, and fortune have become far more important amongst many of today's athletes, and I feel The Replacements does a fabulous job of showing how these things have "replaced" hard work, dedication, commitment, and teamwork. In many ways, the replacement players such as Falco, represent these core values that not only are the cornerstone of football, but the cornerstone of a successful society.
While on the surface, this film is a little cheesy, but it does have some good football action scenes. Keanu Reeves, Brooke Langton, and Gene Hackman give good acting performances, and Jon Favreau is absolutely hilarious as always! However, on a deeper scale, this film explores some real problems that exist not only amongst professional football but amongst society itself. Additionally, any film with John Madden is always a must see!