There's something to be said about "The Replacements", which isn't particularly anything new - in fact, there's not much in the film that hasn't been done in a zillion other sports films - but the film has enough spirit to carry the otherwise average material down the field. The film is essentially "Major League" transported to the football field; a fictional team has put together a team of spares since the real players have walked out on strike. The team is made up of a bunch of cartoonish characters - everyone from a police officer to a Welsh soccer kicker to a washed-up QB(Reeves).
The best thing about this group brought together is the filmmakers have cast some solid actors. Jon Faverau("Swingers") is hilarious as the psychotic former cop; Rhys Ifans(High Grant's friend in "Notting Hill") is also very funny as the kicker. Reeves is, well...Reeves. He's not particularly the best actor, but his simple approach is a good contrast to the more energetic remainder of the team. Hackman adds what he can, doing his best with the usual "sports" lines that coach characters have to deliever. Brooke Langton also makes an otherwise one-dimensional character enjoyable in her role as the head cheerleader.
Director Howard Deutch doesn't do wonderfully well here, but he does as best he can with the passable material, and certainly ends up with a more entertaining film than his previous one - "Odd Couple 2". The one who really helps the film the most "off-field" is cinematographer Tak Fujimoto("The Sixth Sense", "That Thing You Do") gives the film a more elegant look than the material might have called for.
"The Replacements" simply succeeds at being a couple hours of mild fun - no more, no less. Reeves looks not at all like he could be a football player, but the movie is able to brush us past the lack of belief at some (ok, a lot) of the details. Without the cast, it would have certainly fared worse. The film doesn't take itself too seriously, and often remains charming and cheerful.
VIDEO: Warner Brothers scores a definite touchdown with this 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer; the studio has been improving further and further recently, and this is just another in a line of great recent efforts. Tak Fujimoto's beautiful cinematography sparkles here, and although there are a few extremely minor bumps on the field, most of this presentation looks fantastic. Sharpness, detail and clarity are all first-rate; there are some outdoor shots that are really beautiful.
Aside from a tiny bit of shimmer once or twice, the image quality looks perfectly natural throughout the movie. No pixelation and the print used here looks perfectly clean and clear with not even minor marks. Colors are wonderful, as well, looking well-saturated and without flaw. Colors here are deep and rich, and Fujimoto's cinematography looks postcard-perfect often, giving the film a classy look.
SOUND: "The Replacements" also sports a very enjoyable Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. The film does use some kind of obvious choices in terms of music, but I will say this - the music does sound fantastic, with some nice power as well. Surrounds are used effectively as well, with the music and crowd noise being what they offer most. Dialogue is clear, easily heard and natural. "The Replacements" offers a good mix of music and convincing football scenes where crowd noise envelops the viewer. Nothing remarkably agressive, but very enjoyable audio quality and some more intense sequences that entertain.
MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, but very nicely done with football "themed" backgrounds and details. Easily navigated and although not flashy, the menus are a nice intro.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Howard Deutch. Not a particularly lively discussion, Deutch leaves quite a bit of silence on the track, but there are times when he is able to offer some interesting information about the story, working with the actors or the obstacles of filming football. After a rather slow start, the director becomes a bit more talkative towards the middle, though, and a couple times brings up some interesting information about the testing process for the film. Yet, for the interesting bits he also goes into moments of simply talking about what's on-screen at times. Not one of the better commentaries I've listened to lately, but maybe worth a listen once for fans of the movie.
Making The Plays: An Actor's Guide To Football: A funny little featurette about the experiences that the actors went through trying to play football. Interviews with the actors and footage of the "football training" that the actors had to go through is pretty entertaining to watch, as most of these actors probably hadn't played before. Runs for a total of 9 minutes and is worth a look.
Making of "The Replacements": Although this promotional documentary, hosted by star Orlando Jones, is nothing particularly new - much like the movie, it's lively enough to be mildly entertaining. It mainly just talks about the story, which we've just seen, and offers some interviews and on-set footage. Some amusing jokes in-between, though.
Trailer: The theatrical trailer, presented in Dolby 2.0/1.85:1.
Also: Cast & Crew bios.
Final Thoughts: For those who haven't seen the movie, it's certainly worth a look as a rental if you're in the mood for a light comedy. If you enjoyed it in the theater, it's certainly worth picking up as Warner Brothers has done a fine job with the DVD quality, especially the video quality - which is fantastic.