|Directed by||Howard Deutch|
|Written by||Vince McKewin|
|Produced by||Dylan Sellers|
|Edited by||Seth Flaum|
Bud S. Smith
|Music by||John Debney|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$50.1 million|
The Replacements is a 2000 American and British sports comedy film directed by Howard Deutch. It stars Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton, Rhys Ifans, Jon Favreau, and Jack Warden in his last film appearance.
The movie was loosely based on the 1987 NFL strike, specifically the Washington Redskins, who won all three replacement games without any of their regular players and went on to win Super Bowl XXII. Though the film is a story of the replacement players, the Falco–Martel quarterback controversy is quite similar to the one in the post-strike Washington controversy between Doug Williams and Jay Schroeder. Hackman narrated the episode of NFL Network's America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions devoted to that team.
An unnamed fictional pro football league is hit with a players' strike with four games left in the season. Washington Sentinels owner Edward O'Neil calls a former coach of his, Jimmy McGinty, asking him to coach the Sentinels' replacement players for the rest of the season, adding that winning three of the last four games will get the Sentinels into the playoffs. McGinty accepts on the condition that he can sign the players he wants without O'Neil's interference.
McGinty pulls together players of varying talents who he believes can make a winning team. For quarterback, McGinty chooses Shane Falco, a former All-American from Ohio State whose career went to pieces after a lopsided Sugar Bowl loss; he now lives on a houseboat in a D.C. marina and makes a living doing hull maintenance on private yachts. Falco initially refuses, but McGinty persuades him, believing that Falco can still become the player he was meant to be. The striking players greet the replacement players at their first practice with hostility, calling them "scabs" and throwing eggs at them; Falco, who arrives late, gets his truck overturned. Head cheerleader Annabelle Farrell, who has to find new cheerleaders since the originals apparently walked out in sympathy with the players, hires strippers when the other tryouts go terribly badly. After practice, she drives Falco home and surprises him with her vast football knowledge.
The replacements' first game is against Detroit, and the team struggles to get along. Falco tries to rally them, but on the last play, he falters when he sees a pending blitz and calls an audible, which falls short of the winning touchdown. McGinty berates Falco, telling him, "winners always want the ball when the game's on the line." At a local bar, the replacements are brooding over their loss when some of the striking players, led by their prima donna quarterback Eddie Martel, arrive and taunt them. Falco stands up to Martel, a brawl ensues, and the replacements are arrested, but in jail they bond, dancing together to the Gloria Gaynor song "I Will Survive" in their cell before McGinty bails them out. Farrell meets Falco the next day and tells him that he's the first quarterback she's seen in a long time who cares more for his teammates than himself, and a connection starts to grow between them.
The next day, in a "chalk talk", when McGinty asks the players what their fears are, they begin to realize they're all afraid of failing in their second chance at football. McGinty inspires the team to use their shared fear as a source of strength. In the Sentinels' next game against San Diego, they fall behind again but are able to come together and win on a 65-yard field goal by their Welsh kicker, Nigel. Falco meets Farrell at the bar she inherited from her father and now runs. After a short conversation and a beer, they share a deep kiss.
The Sentinels nearly lose their next game on the road against Phoenix, but win on a couple of improbable plays. When they return to D.C., O'Neil tells McGinty that Martel has crossed the picket line, as has the entire Dallas team—the league's defending champion and the Sentinels' next opponent. O'Neil shows no confidence in Falco's ability to beat Dallas, and hints to McGinty that he could be fired if he refuses to start Martel. McGinty gives in and tells Falco, saying that he has the "heart" Martel lacks; Falco then must give his teammates the news. Too downcast to face Farrell, he stands her up for the date they had planned.
In the first half of the Dallas game, Martel clashes severely with the replacement players, blames them for his own mistakes, and smugly ignores McGinty's play calls. The Sentinels trail Dallas 17–0 at halftime. On the way to the locker room, McGinty tells a TV reporter that what the team needs to come back and win is "miles and miles of heart". Seeing this on television, Falco returns to the stadium, and McGinty promptly benches Martel. The rest of the team throws Martel out of the locker room. Back on the field, Falco finds Farrell and apologizes to her, giving her another deep kiss.
McGinty tells the replacements that the strike will officially end the next day, encouraging them to give everything they have left. The Sentinels rally back to 17–14 with less than a minute left. Falco calls for a deep pass to the replacements' deaf tight end, Brian Murphy, and hits him with the game-winning touchdown pass as time expires, earning the Sentinels a playoff berth. McGinty narrates that the replacement players left the field with nothing but the satisfaction and personal glory of living the athlete's dream of a "second chance", as the replacements dance on the field to "I Will Survive".
The film opened at the third position at the North American box office, making $11,039,214 in its opening weekend, behind Space Cowboys and Hollow Man, which was in its second consecutive week at the top spot. It eventually grossed $44.7 million domestically and $5.3 million internationally to over $50 million worldwide.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 41% based on 108 reviews, with an average rating of 4.96/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "The clichéd characters and obvious outcome make all the fun and excitement amount to nothing." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 30 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore during its opening weekend gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, writing that the film was "Slap-happy entertainment painted in broad strokes, two coats thick."