In a parallel NFL universe — and obviously inspired by the 1987 NFL season — the big time football players have gone on strike, over — you guessed it — money! Never was QB, “Footsteps” Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), whose biggest claim to fame is a blowout Sugar Bowl loss, is recruited by new Washington Sentinels’ head coach, Jimmy McGinty (a wily Gene Hackman) to lead a bunch of misfit “replacement” players and keep the franchise’s playoff hopes alive. The colorful cast of scabs includes gangsters, gamblers, inmates and a berserk SWAT officer (Jon Favreau of “Swingers” and “Friends” fame). In the hands of veteran director Howard Deutsch (“Pretty in Pink”) the mix is a gritty, screwball sports romp worthy of comparison with “The Longest Yard” and “North Dallas Forty.”
The normally unaffecting Reeves is dutiful and square jawed in his Cinderella (Joe Montana) shoes and it doesn’t hurt that – a la “Speed” — he has a perky cute Sandra Bullock clone to fall for (Brook Langton as the head cheerleader). The smartly choreographed gridiron drama is underdog-rooting infectious and the a*s-slapping antics of the “replacement” cheerleaders from the Pussycat Lounge are at once, titillating and uproarious.