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‘The Replacements’ at 20: The Sports Movie That Made Scabs the Heroes

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The Replacement Anniversary Review

There have been a great many movies about underdog sports teams, but only one of those was based on union-busting. That was The Replacements, a truly weird, but occasionally successful football-based romantic comedy from August of 2000, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week. 

The Replacements, directed by ’80s movie stalwart Howard Deutch and written by Vince McKewin, was loosely based on the NFL player strike in 1987. The NFL players union called a strike two weeks into that season, and the owners responded by hiring replacement players, who donned NFL uniforms and played games that counted for three weeks. Numerous players crossed the picket line, and the union eventually gave up, calling off the strike and returning to work; they later used the courts to finally be granted the right to free agency, more than 15 years after baseball players got it. 

But not before the then-Washington Redskins, consisting mostly of the replacements, defeated the Dallas Cowboys, several of whose stars had returned to the team. The episode was the subject of a fine ESPN 30 for 30, Year of the Scab, on the occasion of the strike’s 30th anniversary in 2017. 

The Replacements

Thirteen years after the ’87 strike, Hollywood decided to make a film fictionalizing the strike, with the scabs as the heroes. Set in a fictional, NFL-like league, much like Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday had been about eight months earlier, the film was about a fictional football team (the “Washington Sentinels”) navigating a player strike. 

Team owner Edward O’Neil (Jack Warden) decides to field replacement players, and also to bring back old coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman.)  The replacements have all played football at some level before, including quarterback Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), a former college star whose career was derailed after he blew it in a college bowl game. 

Most of the players have about one character trait apiece, including a lineman (Jon Favreau) with anger issues, a receiver (Orlando Jones) with experience running from the cops, and an ex-soccer player-turned kicker (Rhys Ifans.) Michael Jace, who would go on to co-star on The Shield and then get convicted of murder in real life– plays a player, ironically, who’s let out of prison in order to play. The idea is that these are all charming underdogs who never were given a chance and also happened to willing to cross a picket line. 

The Replacements

The team bonds- like a lot of movies around that time- by dancing, this time to “I Will Survive,” and the team makes a surprising run, even as the entire Dallas team (as in real life) crosses the picket line and faces the mostly replacement Washington squad. 

Meanwhile Falco, the quarterback, romances head cheerleader Annabelle (Brooke Langton- the girl Jon Favreau leaves messages for in Swingers), leading to the infamous scene in which announcers John Madden and Pat Summerall narrate their love scene. 

The team’s cheerleaders, it appears, also went out on strike, leading the team to hire strippers in their place. Not only are NFL cheerleaders very much not unionized, and lots of headlines in the years since- even some involving the Washington team– have made this plot point not age particularly well. 

The film was shot in Baltimore, using the Ravens’ stadium but giving it the name “Nextel Stadium,” perhaps the only time in history that a stadium naming rights deal was negotiated just for a movie. 

Reeves was coming off of The Matrix two years earlier, but his reputation as an actor wasn’t quite at the level it is today. As for Hackman, it’s far from his best performance as a coach – that would be Hoosiers, while Brooke Langton has mostly been a TV performer in the years since, with recurring roles on Friday Night Lights and shows like that. 

The Replacements was a medium-sized hit and got mixed reviews, but it’s gained some popularity through cable re-runs in the years since. Still, it’s a very strange bird, despite some charm and humor here and there. The film’s politics are practically reactionary, taking the pro-management line that players are cartoonishly greedy and should be grateful for the opportunity to play football. It’s also easy to imagine a much more compelling movie called The Replacements– namely, an as-yet-made biopic of the 1980s pop-punk band of that name.

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

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Sad News DS Fans: The Nintendo 3DS Has Been Discontinued

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After almost ten years in service, Nintendo’s portable 3DS console has officially been discontinued according to Nintendo’s official website. This applies to all the various models of the console: the 3DS, the 2DS, the New 3DS, the New 2DS, the 3DS XL, the New 3DS XL and the New 2DS XL.

The 3DS was an innovative handheld gaming console upon its release in 2011, combining 3-D technology and gaming without the need for special 3-D glasses. The 3D effect was obtained via an optical illusion with the systems screen- a stereoscopic effect that could be turned on with a slider. I remember the awe I felt the very first time I used the 3DS. It felt like a whole new era of gaming encased in a small and sleek package.

Although not hugely popular when it was first released, sales of the console grew a few years after. Since the release of the Nintendo Switch in 2017, sales of the 3DS have been steadily declining so it is not a huge surprise that Nintendo have made this decision. However, it is still a sad moment for DS fans as it means the end of solely portable consoles for Nintendo. I have a lot of fond memories from my 3DS and my plain old DS. I still remember getting the original DS for my birthday in 2006 and spending the rest of the day playing Nintendogs. Good times.

So raise a glass, bid farewell and press F to pay your respects to the 3DS and the DS console in general. You will be missed, dear friend.  

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The ‘Mass Effect’ Remastered Trilogy Rumours Are Back in Full Swing

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Desperate Mass Effect fans- myself included- have long been hoping for an announcement of a remaster of Bioware’s epic space drama trilogy. Despite no news coming from Bioware themselves or publishers EA, the fandom has been clutching at straws in regards to a remaster. However, there have been a couple of suggestions here and there- such as the listing of a Mass Effect art book coming in March 2021- that point towards a remaster coming our way. The most recent suggestion is possibly the strongest yet so let’s take a look.

A Portuguese retail website recently posted a listing for the Mass Effect Trilogy game, complete with box art and various console versions. The listing showed three different versions of the remaster: A PlayStation 4 version, an Xbox One version and a Nintendo Switch version. Prices were also posted with the retail listing- though they are listed as the euro currency due to the location of the site- with the PS4 and Xbox One versions listed as 59.99 euros and the Switch one down as 49.99 euros. The listing has since been deleted by the retailer site but thanks to Twitter- more specifically the Twitter user Nibel– you can check out the listing below.

This is very encouraging for us Mass Effect fans. It’s not so good for the person responsible for the listing though. Let’s be honest, they are losing their job for sure. The trilogy remaster has been circulating the gaming rumour mill for a while so here’s hoping that we will get some concrete information- and an actual confirmation- sometime soon.

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Square Enix Announces ‘Final Fantasy XVI’ for PlayStation 5

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FINAL FANTASY XVI FOR PLAYSTATION5 ​​​

During today’s PlayStation 5 Showcase event, Square Enix revealed that acclaimed creators Naoki Yoshida (Final Fantasy® Xiv, Dragon Quest X) and Hiroshi Takai (Final Fantasy Xiv, The Last Remnant) are collaborating on an all-new standalone mainline Final Fantasy game, titled Final Fantasy XVI, for the PlayStation 5 system.

The news was revealed via the Final Fantasy XVI“Awakening” trailer which can be viewed below.

Here’s what Producer Naoki Yoshida had to say:

Final Fantasy Xvi producer (that’s right, just producer) Naoki Yoshida here. How did you enjoy the trailer? The exclusive footage, comprised of both battles and cutscenes running in real-time, represents but a fraction of what our team has accomplished since the start of development on this, an all-new Final Fantasy game. In that span, the team’s size has grown from a handful of core members to a full-fledged unit that continues to polish and build upon what they have created so far, all to provide players an experience unmatched in terms of story and gameplay.

Our next big information reveal is scheduled for 2021, so in the meantime, I expect everyone to have fun speculating, as we have a lot in store—not only for Final Fantasy XVI, but for Final Fantasy XIV, too. Needless to say, I’ll be working hard on both!

Final Fantasy XVI

And here is what director Hiroshi Takai had to say:

When Final Fantasy I was released, I was just another player─a young student with big dreams. By the time Final Fantasy V was in the works, I had earned myself a seat at the developers’ table… albeit at the very end. From there, I moved “online” leaving my mark on both Final Fantasy XI and XIV.

And now…XVI.

From the establishment of an all-new development environment, to learning the ins-and-outs of the PS5, the team and I have taken on countless challenges during our journey to bring you the sixteenth chapter in the storied Final Fantasy franchise. And though we’re pouring our hearts and souls into this project each and every day, it may still be some time before we can get it into your hands. However, I promise it will be worth the wait!

Final Fantasy XVI

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