The Replacements (2000)
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Quarterback Keanu Reeves is one of the few non-cartoon characters in the football comedy The Replacements, and he looks like he doesn't want to be there. Coach Gene Hackman at least seems to be having a good time even if it's a bit of a phone-in. Head cheerleader Brooke Langton is given some quirks, but she's a pretty bog-standard love interest. Most of the rest of the cast are comedic caricatures, the least successful of which is Jon Favreau's rage monster; the most, Rhys Ifans' Welsh footballer (he may be THE reason for seeing the flick). Orlando Jones has some charm too, as do the strippers who replace the cheerleaders during a strike. So this is an underdog movie with all the clichés you'd expect, though there are some good bits of sports action beyond the first act which scared me into thinking it was all gonna be glossy B-roll. Keanu gets a good speech, Hackman a couple of good lines. The plot isn't always logical and certainly isn't on solid footing when it comes to union action, either ethically or logistically. But it's the direction that really sinks the picture. It's not always good at choreographing the action in a way that makes sense to the audience, and worse, it treats its subplots the same way. Its greatest sin, however, is that it is over-soundtracked. Wall-to-wall hits from the '90s muffle the dialog and are often either too on the nose, or just wrong for the scene. Madden and Summerall add to the noise by playing Statler and Waldorf to the action.
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