The Replacements

Sadly, this Keanu Reeves vehicle is not, as one might have hoped, a biopic about the greatest underground rock band of the '80s. It's a genial and instantly forgettable sports comedy that makes THE BAD NEWS BEARS look like GRAND ILLUSION. Reeves, only marginally more believable as a once-promising football player than he was as SPEED's L.A. bomb squad hotshot,...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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Sadly, this Keanu Reeves vehicle is not, as one might have hoped, a biopic about the greatest underground rock band of the '80s. It's a genial and instantly forgettable sports comedy that makes THE BAD NEWS BEARS look like GRAND ILLUSION. Reeves,

only marginally more believable as a once-promising football player than he was as SPEED's L.A. bomb squad hotshot, stars as Shane Falco, an ex-college quarterback. He's recruited by legendary Washington Sentinels coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman, phoning it in) when a players' strike

necessitates the hiring of second-tier talent to finish out the season. Falco's colleagues are the de rigeur collection of World War II movie bomber-crew misfits: a chain-smoking Welsh soccer star (Rhys Ifans); a butter-fingered runner (Orlando Jones); a humongous Sumo wrestler (Ace

Yonamine); two rap-star bodyguards (Michael Taliferro and Faizon Love); a sensitive deaf kid (David Denman); a jailbird on loan from a work-release program (Michael Jace); a born-again Christian who carries his Bible onto the field (Troy Winbush); and a psychotic cop who will tackle anyone dressed

in red (Jon Favreau). Vince McKewn's script is an enervating mix of the obvious — replacement cheerleaders come from a local lap-dance joint — and the unbelievable: Reeves, replaced when the smarmy star quarterback crosses the picket line for the big game, watches it at home rather than

from the sidelines. And there isn't a ROCKY-esque cliché the film doesn't tackle, throw gasping to the ground and flog to death; though, to its credit, the picture has enough generosity of spirit to give the final, never-in-doubt, happy-ending touchdown to a character other than Reeves. For

the record, veteran sportscasters John Madden and Pat Summerall star as themselves, and both of them outact Reeves.

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