The Replacements is an engaging and amusing film, even though it is about football (hardly one of the more exciting sports), consisting of a bunch of rag-tag characters who provide a number of laughs.
The basic outline of the plot is simple: a pro-football team (the Washington Sentinels) is on strike and their owner decides to hire replacement players (scabs) and coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) to take them to the finals. The film is about being given a second chance to make something out of oneself.
The reason The Replacements works is because of the players McGinty picks and the actors who play these characters. They include a Sumo wrestler who eats eggs before starting a game (Ace Yonamine), a former veteran with a taste for violence (Jon Favreau), a chain-smoking Welsh (this is a double entendre in the film) soccer player (Rhys Ifans), a convenience store employee who is extremely fast (Orlando Jones from the 7-Up commercials), a convict (Michael Jace), and two hulking bodyguards (Michael Taliferro and Faizon Love). Rounding off this motley crew is former college football star Shane Falco (Keanu Reaves) who lost the Rose Bowl under pressure and hasn't been able to get it together since.
The film does have a message, illustrating the spoilt nature of stars who are glorified by the general populace. The sound track is fairly decent. The prison scene where the team sings I Will Survive is hilarious for its incongruity. The movie uses its licenses liberally, but it does succeed in generating humour. The acting in general is quite good; Hackman puts in a dignified performance and the chemistry between him and Reeves is strong. The Replacements is a fun time-killer and worth the matinee fare.