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THE REPLACEMENTS ($25) is a movies whose basic premise has been recycled from about a dozen other similarly themed pictures. While completely unoriginal, THE REPLACEMENTS knows how to mix the inspiration, feel good formula with a good dose of hilarity. Set inside the world of professional football, THE REPLACEMENTS tells the story of how one team faces a player’s strike with a rag tag band of substitute players, personally selected by the newly appointed coach- Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman). Where the rest of the league used semi-professional football players to fill out their replacement rosters, McGinty goes a different route, selecting his team based upon the unique talents of each member of his new squad.

THE REPLACEMENTS also stars Keanu Reeves as Shane Falco, a quarterback who choked his first time in the spotlight. Figuring that he got a raw deal the first time around, McGinty decides that Falco is the perfect man to lead his team of replacements to the playoffs. THE REPLACEMENTS derives most of its humor from the interaction of its team of misfits and how they come together on the gridiron. There are also a number of very funny moments generated by the team's newly formed squad of replacement cheerleaders, who are lead by Falco’s romantic interest Annabelle Farrell (Brooke Langton). The cast of THE REPLACEMENTS also includes Orlando Jones, Faizon Love, Michael Taliferro, Ace Yonamine, Troy Winbush, David Denman, Jon Favreau, Michael Jace, Rhys Ifans, Gailard Sartain, Art LaFleur Brett Cullen, John Madden, Pat Summerall and Jack Warden.

Warner Home Video offers THE REPLACEMENTS on DVD in a truly fine looking wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The 1.78:1 image is crystal clear, razor sharp and very well defined- everything one expects from a brand new Hollywood studio movie. While the subject matter doesn't lend itself to demonstration material, the first rate transfer comes close to putting this disc into that category. There isn't a blemish or bit of film grain to be seen on this wonderfully slick looking disc. Colors are quite vivid throughout the presentation, although the flesh tones appear completely natural. There are no signs of chroma noise or bleeding anywhere. Blacks are accurately rendered and the picture produces a fine level of shadow detail. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed throughout on this dual layer DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack goes beyond the standard comedy mix, with the track becoming quite aggressive during the game sequences. There is good channel separation in the forward soundstage and the directional effects are hard hitting. Surrounds are equally well deployed for the sounds of the crowd, as well as others related to the game. Dialogue is nicely recorded and cleanly reproduced, although there are a couple of moments when the other sonic elements threaten the ineligibility of the voices. The bass channel is very solid, enhancing the bone crunching sound effects. A French 5.1 channel soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

Sound has been added to the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features. The DVD's supplements are also accessible through the interactive menus. There is a fairly informative running audio commentary with director Howard Deutch, although the tack is a bit sparse at times. Also included on the DVD is the HBO First Look: The Replacements. Hosted by Orlando Jones, the featurette runs 15 minutes and includes interviews with all the principals. Making the Plays: An Actor's Guide To Football runs less than 10 minutes and gives one a good ideal of how the actors had to prepare to go out on the field and play the game with professional athletes. Cast filmographies and a theatrical trailer fill out the DVD's supplements.

THE REPLACEMENTS isn't a great piece of cinema, but then again, it doesn't try to be. However, as a sports comedy, THE REPLACEMENTS is very successful. The DVD looks and sounds great, so if you are inclined, THE REPLACEMENTS is definitely worth checking out.


The Replacements



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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