The Replacements   


Cast & Credits
hane Falco: Keanu Reeves
Jimmy McGinty:
Gene Hackman
Annabelle: Brooke Langton
Daniel Bateman: Jon Favreau

Directed By
Howard Deutch. Written By Vince McKewin.

 Running Time: 114 Minutes.
Rated PG-13

By MATTHEW HEITZER / August 11, 2000

 In 1987, in our “real world,” the NFL Players Association went on strike, leaving the owners with a dilemma. Would they allow the players to hold an entire sport hostage at a time when it was threatening to become the most popular sport in the country, or would they find a way to put product, any product, on the field? In an infamous decision, the NFL decided to go with replacement players, also known not so affectionately as “Scabs,” and play the rest of the season as if it were real until the strike was over.

It was a bold move, and one that ultimately paid off. Despite being offered laughable amounts of talent, the fans came out, the games counted, and the strike was broken. The owners were able to push through a contract so reasonable and so rational that the NFL enjoys a ridiculous amount of stability and fairness when compared to the other professional sports leagues.

When the real players returned, most of the scabs went back to their daily lives. They had their fifteen minutes of glory, their shining moments of gridiron greatness, and were able to fade back into the woodwork knowing that, for just a little while, they were kings.

From this true story The Replacements draws its inspiration, though there is nothing even remotely resembling a true story here. The overpaid and terminally greedy players of a totally fictional football league walk out with only four games remaining in their season. Complaining that $5 million a year is insufficient to handle agents fees, lawyers fees, insurance on their Ferraris, and the like, the players are so out of touch with their fan base that owners seize on an opportunity to hire replacement players to finish out the season.

This story centers around one team, the Washington Sentinels, who have hired a crusty former coach, whose claim to fame seems to be that he lost a grudge match some years back with his cocky $8 million quarterback. From this tidbit of information we are to believe that Coach McGinty (Gene Hackman) is a traditionalist, the type of hard-nosed football legend who waxes nostalgic about the days when players played through toils and pain not for a paycheck, but for the glory of winning.

To further prove his point, coach McGinty assembles a team of men who would pay to play, just to get one taste of what it might be like to play this game at the professional level. They include the supermarket stock boy (Orlando Jones) with amazing speed and leaden hands, the sumo wrestler turned offensive lineman, the Welsh soccer star with a penchant for cigarettes and beer, and the former Michigan State walk-on (Jon Favreau) turned SWAT team cop.

The crown jewel of this motley crew is Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), a former college great who imploded in such a spectacular fashion in his final college game that he suffers from acute shellshock whenever the game is on the line. These days Falco lives on a ratty houseboat and makes his way by servicing yachts. McGinty, of course, sees only a golden arm and a golden opportunity.

Basically, these are the boys from Little Giants, only all grown up and with less to lose.

In short order the team comes together, faces down the unnecessarily hostile striking players, and learns that trust and leadership can turn has-beens and never-weres into winners. Apparently, the team that gets into a bar fight together, goes to jail together, and then does an impromptu line dance to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” in the big house together, wins games together.


Memories from the NFL Strike

Taking Care of the Little Guy

Business Lessons from the NFL

Players Pay Price for Booming NFL

copyright 2006