review for The Replacements on AllMovie

The Replacements (2000)
by Karl Williams review

Howard Deutch directs this sports comedy that attempts to resurrect a genre popular in the late '70s but fails to successfully recreate the formula. The premise of The Replacements is certainly akin to the sort of film that Burt Reynolds might have starred in 25 years earlier: a band of deviant miscreants cross labor lines to play pro football as scabs. But the appeal of such films as The Bad News Bears (1976), Slapshot (1977), and North Dallas Forty (1979) was utter outrageousness, with unexpected forays into foul play and depictions of unrepentant antisocial behavior on the part of sports heroes once revered as gods. In The Replacements, screenwriter Vince McKewin and Deutch fall prey to the turgid, modern-day cinematic dictum that all characters must be likable. Reluctant to truly depict the darker aspects of its athletic also-rans, the film simply runs out of steam, its comedy more artificially wacky and goofball than piercingly satirical. Assembling a promising roster of misfits, the filmmakers then proceed to do little of interest with them, removing any edge or sense of menace from their cast of characters -- and most of the interest from their film.