During the 1987 NFL strike, replacement players were allowed a moment in the sun playing professional football. Many had waited years to have a chance such as this one. Screenplay writer Vince McKewin has come up with a humorous fictional interpretation of this incident in sports history. Of course, given the greed and the vanity of so many gridiron stars, it is only natural for us to root for their stand-ins.
Edward O'Neil (Jack Warden), owner of the Washington Sentinels, believes that his team still has a shot at the playoffs despite the strike by his players. He calls coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) out of retirement to assemble a replacement team. This wily veteran puts together a team consisting of a vicious SWAT cop (Jon Favreau), a Japanese Sumo wrestler (Ace Yonamine), a deaf athlete (David Denman), two mammoth bodyguards (Michael "Bear" Taliferro and Faizon Love), a chain-smoking Welsh soccer player (Rhys Ifans), a convict (Michael Jace), a born-again Christian (Troy Winbush), and a sprinter (Clifford Franklin).
To lead this team of eager misfits, McGinty chooses Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), a shining college football quarterback whose light was extinguished in a huge and humiliating Sugar Bowl loss. With a reputation for caving in under pressure, he has much to prove to himself and to all those who once believed in him.
Howard Deutch keeps this archetypal Hollywood movie humming along with predictable comic bits and the antics of its colorful characters. Even though we can easily predict the outcome of the pivotal game, it is still fun to watch a group of so-called losers coalesce into a team by transcending their conflicts and fulfilling their potential in one supreme moment of glory. This entertaining comedy is a real corker.