Moviefied’s Guilty-Pleasure Movie: The Replacements (2000)

The Replacements – Trailer

I grew up watching football.  In western Pennsylvania, we watched Penn State, we watched the Steelers, and by the time I was ten, not only could I brag that I had seen the Immaculate Reception, but I could yell at a ref for missing a pass interference call.  So, it doesn’t seem odd that my guiltiest, weirdest movie pleasure is The Replacements.  During the off-season, I could put together a perfect football movie Sunday that would consist of Remember the Titans, The Replacements, and Any Given Sunday.  They all contain a number of excellent football movie clichés (including the amazing catch and the game-ending-injury-by-the-flawed-character-in-a- noble-game-saving-play), but The Replacements in particular catches me every time.  There is the o-line defending the quarterback by shooting up a car, the cheerleaders who get all sexy and distract the other team, the bar fight with the resulting group sing-along and line dance, and – as if that weren’t enough – there’s the big Japanese lineman who eats too many eggs and pukes on the field.  Why is that funny, you ask?  Why ask why?
And why is it guilty? It’s just a funny movie about football, right?
My husband has pointed out to me that The Replacements is a movie about strikebreakers. Still, despite the way the players are depicted in this movie, I have a lot of sympathy for NFL players. They have the weakest union in any of the professional sports I watch and though they are paid very large wages, their futures are always tentative: an injured player’s contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, and in this very physical sport, winding up with a serious injury is incredibly likely. Compared to the team owners (who are in shared relationships with other teams and so, are guaranteed to profit even on teams that are not doing well), the players face uncertain futures that are often disappointing.  

I know all of that to be true, and yet, I can’t help but embrace this movie about a team of underdogs who get a second chance.   It’s charming, funny, touching, and any time I surf by it, I can’t turn it off:  More than anything else, I want to see these guys—who never thought they’d get the chance to play in the NFL—play as hard as they can. 
“Pain heals.  Chicks dig scars.  Glory lasts forever.”
Go team. GO!
—Susan Shannon

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