When it comes to sports movies, the best ones tend to be unrealistic. Not to say those that are based on real events can’t be good (like “Moneyball” and “42”) but we all root for the little guy. And frankly outside of Leicester City, we don’t see underdogs going all the way in real life. “The Replacements” is a classic example of what a fun sports movie should be like.
With the top players going on strike, football teams are forced to find new players to fill their ranks. The Washington Sentinels dig a little deeper than most as they put together a colorful bunch of players including a convict, sumo wrestler and drunken Welshmen to name a few.
But their ace in the hole is QB Shane Falco, a former college star who can’t live down his failures in the Sugar Bowl (which basically every person in the world remembers). While Falco has the skill and leadership to be successful, it is the fear in big moments that made him ultimately fall off. Yet when it comes to this team, he is the perfect guy to lead the Sentinels to victory.
Now as you would expect, this squad isn’t really that strong so they struggle throughout most of their games but just find ways to win whether through the will of Falco or pure luck. Either way you enjoy watching this team and their flamboyant players as they unexpectedly have a shot at the playoffs. Although I won’t spoil the ending, what you expect to happen is what happens.
While “The Replacements” may be standard fare for an unrealistic sports movie, I couldn’t help but smile throughout. The characters were all ridiculous in a multitude of ways, including Jon Favreau’s Danny Bateman who can’t calm down, however they all shine in different moments. You can understand why fans might root for this ragtag group that has no business playing in these games.
Probably the best part of the movie is Coach Jimmy McGinty who is the stereotypical Gene Hackman coach. He is brilliant and stoic but knows how to reach his players. While he may yell to motivate the big guys, when it comes to his QB it’s more about winning phrases in order to get the best out of him. I mean if I ever became a Coach, I would definitely steal plenty of McGinty’s lines.
Look “The Replacements” isn’t a special movie that will always leave an impact on me. It’s not “Captain America: Civil War” or “Groundhog Day” but the tone is what you want from a sports movie: uplifting. Sure the characters are unrealistic and do things that would land them in jail yet the message still rings true. These players weren’t about the glory but instead the love of the game. That is what sports are supposed to be all about.