Director: Howard Deutch
Stars: Gene Hackman, Keanu Reeves, Orlando Jones, Faizon Love, David Denman, Jon Favreau, Rhys Ifans
A number of players for the Washington Sentinels NFL team go on strike, so replacements are brought in to try and take the team to the play-offs.
I’m not a fan of American football at all but I thought the plays were executed in such a way that I could understand them and what was going on. The premise lends itself to humour and the film is really funny in places. The focus is on Shane Falco (Reeves) and the theme is about second chances. There were a few heartwarming moments and I always like films where a bunch of odd characters get lumped in together and have to work together to achieve a common goal.
There are recognisable sports movies tropes, and I think a few areas of the film were glossed over. I did like the subplot of the cheerleaders being made up of strippers though, that was funny. Some of the team got more focus than others, and my main disappointment is that we didn’t find out what happened afterwards. There’s one scene where the coach (Hackman) talks about fear, and he believes that their collective fear is blowing their second chance and going back to their old lives. Yet by the end of the film it seems as though they will have to go back to that anyway, so there’s a bit of thematic disconnect there and the ending felt anti-climactic.
It’s a decent, enjoyable film though. I wouldn’t put it up there with sporting greats but it’s entertaining and has more than a few laughs with some standard team-building-through-adversity moments.