GOOD FILMS DESERVE clear, competent examinations because they are complex and immortal; bad films deserve only experimental reviews, because, really, what else can you do with them except, as the British say, take the piss out of it. The Replacements certainly deserves the latter treatment, which is why Bruce and I decided to conduct a little experiment. We discussed this film first in a sober condition, then, after a three-hour break, in a drunk one. Let's see how it goes.


SOBER

Charles: This film amazed me not as a filmgoer but as a Zimbabwean. I felt like I wasn't American at all when I watched it. I usually like Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman, and the director, Howard Deutch, did make Pretty in Pink. So why is it so horrible? Did I miss something? No one walked out of the screening, people laughed at the jokes, and a few even cheered when Keanu's team won the crucial game at the end.

Bruce: I shared your outsider amazement while watching. In a way, however, the reaction of the crowd shows how Howard Deutch has succeeded where Oliver Stone failed. Any Given Sunday labors mightily to prove that football is a racist, sexist institution; The Replacements achieves this effortlessly, by having the phat gansta player mock the fat Japanese one, or poking pointless fun at the chubby girl who tries out for the cheerleading squad.

Charles: I agree. But there's something else: the film bemoans the commercialization of the sport. This is weird for two reasons. Professional sports were invented in the late-19th century to keep the working poor preoccupied--not thinking about how miserable their lot was--and have never been innocent, as this film suggests. Two, everyone's complaining about the commercialization of culture, about the way corporate logic, ethics, and methods have pervaded every aspect of our lives. But a university or church complaining about this is one thing; pro football is another.

Bruce: Well, in some ways football is the perfect metaphor to examine this. But the movie is so commercialized itself, so cynical in adhering to shopworn formulas designed to flatter and please the audience, that it never sees the irony of hiring Keanu Reeves to star in an indictment of the Star System.


DRUNK

Charles: I had lots of wine, and wha' do I think about this fucking film? It's still impossible to believe that all that money went into it. My parents were in town from Africa last week, and they told me things are getting worse, people are hungry and starving. Well, what does this have to do with this film? Waste! That's what. Waste. Waste of time, waste of food. Waste of money. By the way, the pizzza [sic] we had just now with Andy was excellent! Now that is not waste.

Bruce: God, the pizza was good; especially the garlic. It looked like there was too much garlic but there wasn't; there was just enough. Andy always treats you right (like the coach in this movie, Gene Hackman, tried to do). But the movie still sucks, even though I stuck with beer while you had wine.

Charles: Movie? Shmoovie! Let's talk about something else. I found a copy of Nabokov's Pale Fire on Andy's bookshelf. It opens with these excellent lines: "I was once a waxing slain, by the false azure in the window pane." Now get Keanu to write something like that! Then I'll write a great review!

Bruce: Exactly; or my favorite line, from Bend Sinister: "And under that, was a dead wife and sleeping child." That's poetry, damn it, not The Replacements. It's like Christine said about an hour ago: this movie sucks.