Written by Kevin Wee
Do you smell that?
Itʻs a curious smell, an overpowering scent of underinflated footballs and anachronistic older white men, with a subtle hint of nachos mixed in with the anguish of drafting Teddy Bridgewater in your fantasy league.
In case the previous paragraph reads like the plot of Prometheus, let me summarize it in three words.
NFL PLAYOFF WEEKEND.
And thereʻs nothing quite like watching the struggles of a down and out former college star quarterback who lost his mojo, only to find redemption by dragging his motley crew of teammates into the playoffs while trying to romance the unbelievably attractive head cheerleader.
If you just muttered to yourself, “Hey, that's the plot for ʻThe Replacementsʻ.” You sir/madam/gender neutral person, are absolutely correct. Because the only thing that goes better with a football game than chips and a cold one is a great football movie.
The critics all hate it (41% on Rotten Tomatoes), but like everyone who took Adrian Peterson as the #1 pick in their ESPN snake drafts, they are dead wrong.
Now before your jockstrap gets into a very large bunch, hear me out. Replacements is a so bad it's great movie. A so bad it's good movie that knows exactly what it is, and does not try to accomplish anything more than what you expect it to. You love it like an ugly dog. The dog doesn't know it's ugly, it still wags it tail when it sees you, and whines when you leave. Who cares if it looks like Satan himself kicked it out of hell? That weirdness is just another reason why you love it.
Whenever I channel surf during football season and come across The Replacements rerunning itself on TBS, I know there is a 99% chance I'll be watching until Keanu Reeves plants that heroic kiss onto Brooke Langton's lips while Jakob Dylan croons in the background that we could all be heroes for just one day. Iʻm a big fan of the movie ending kiss that is accompanied by a classic rock song (eg: A Knightʻs Tale. Excellent use of AC/DC, and yes I know Jakob Dylan is covering the incomparable David Bowie, but the song itself is a classic.)
Every point of argument that people bring up about the why the movie sucks is wrong. Their arguments are actually what makes the movie great.
Haters gonna hate on Keanu Reevesʻs performance.
This was during the period when people didn't accept Keanu for what he is. We criticized him for playing some variation of Ted ʻTheodore' Logan in every single movie. Wooden, stiff, flat, and maybe a little high, but thatʻs part of the charm. Keanu Reeveʻs Johnny Utah, no wait sorry wrong movie, Keanu Reeve's Shane Falco is our everyman, the proxy to anyone who gave up on a dream due to some unforeseen adversity and wants a second chance. We want Shane to succeed. Plus it's Keanu Reeves. Now we know the guy sits and eats with homeless people and then waits in line at a club to gain entry, even though the party is for him. On the Venn Diagram of ideal human beings, Keanu is in the middle where the circles humbleness, altruism, and good looks meet.
You canʻt hate on such a nice guy. And heʻs everything I want in a quarterback, a great teammate, always on an even keel, motivating when it counts, and delivers when it really matters. His performance isn't bad, it's exactly what I want from my fictional professional replacement football quarterback.
Take me to the promised land Keanu!
People gonna scoff at: Cliche Quarterback/Head Cheerleader Relationship
Ah, Brooke Langton. Your portrayal of Annabelle is in my Hall of Fame for Iwanttoseriouslydateyoubutwouldbetooflusteredtoaskyououtforafirstdate movie characters. Also in my Hall of Fame? Catherine ZetaJones in Zorro and Kate Beckinsale in Serendipity.
Annabelleʻs got that gorgeous smile, she owns a bar, she loves football, and she knows secret home remedies for sore muscles involving yams. She motivates Shane Falco to do incredible things on the football field. Everyone should date someone who makes them a better person.
I lived vicariously through Shane Falco the entire movie. He wins the football game, he gets the girl. Why is that a bad thing?
Why do you care if the plot is recycled?
People complain about the plot. Those people also probably thought Dan McGwire would be a Pro Bowl quarterback (look it up). Who wants to watch the hero lose in a comedy? D2: The Mighty Ducks would not be the amazing movie it is if USA does not beat Gunnar Stahl and Team Iceland.
Sometimes I want to watch a movie where I know whatʻs going to happen. If I wanted to watch a movie where I didn't know what the fuck was going on, I would watch Mulholland Drive, or Batman vs. Superman (why was Doomsday a Ninja Turtle on steroids?).
Watching the Replacements is like drinking a Miller Lite, itʻs comfortable and familiar. If you want to experience something new, try a craft beer. But other times, you want to watch a movie knowing the underdog is going to come out on top. And when I watch this movie, I want to feel comfortable knowing the Sentinels will come out on top.
EMBRACE THE CLICHES PEOPLE.
The team is filled with stereotypes.
The team is made up of overused caricatures, they said. We want something new and fresh they said. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Look at this AllStar lineup that supports Keanu Reeves:
- Jon Favreau: The man responsible for everything Marvel is accomplishing today. (No disrespect RDJ).
- Orlando Jones: American Gods American Gods American Gods American Gods.
- Gene Hackman: What hasn't this guy done?
- Ace Yonamine: Ok, heʻs not famous, but heʻs from Hawaii so I have to give him a shoutout.
Even though all the teammates are character archetypes and go through the traditional arcs, Orlando Jones as comedic relief and the guy who can't catch, or the cop and ex-con who arrive at the town of Mutual Respect after passing through the city of Unsubtle Distrust, I donʻt care.
Itʻs like going home for your high school reunion and seeing that Michael Rappaport is still ice fishing in that same hut out on the lake (Beautiful Girls was on Showtime).
You want nonconformity in a football movie, watch ESPNʻs 30 for 30 documentary ʻThe U.' There is nothing wrong with the familiar. Nobody ever goes home expecting it to be different from your last visit.
The motivating speech at the end is so cheesy.
I get goosebumps and maybe slightly misty eyed when Keanu monotones those immortal words:
“I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that just wouldn't be our style. Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory... lasts forever.”
That is at least the third best motivational speech in a sports movie behind Al Pacino talking about inches and Kurt Russell telling the 1980 USA hockey team to take their moment.
And you know everything Keanu says is true. Pain does heal. Chicks do dig scars. Unless its scars from calf implants. What the hell is up with those?
And glory, like my love for this amazing movie, will last forever.
Now if youʻll excuse me, The Replacements is coming on after this mini Seinfeld marathon, I need to get the bowl of chips and beer ready.