EDIT: This one is close enough where I'm going to give it a bump. If you haven't voted already, please do so! - Chris
The first of our three finals matches kicks off this evening with the last heads-up match-up in the Professional bracket. One of these two movies took down the bracket's top seed to get to where it is now, while the other one had to pull off a couple of upsets to get to this point.
Let's meet the combatants!
Any Given Sunday
Any Given Sunday tells the story of the Miami Sharks, a once-great team coached by the legendary (in the movie's fictional football league, in any case) Tony D'Amato. . .or, as you and I know him, Al Pacino. In the opening scene, Miami's starting quarterback and backup quarterback both get injured, meaning the team has to turn to their third-string option, Willie Beamen (played by Jamie Foxx). There are some growing pains, obviously, but Beamen eventually asserts himself quite well as the team's quarterback, leading them to the "Pantheon Cup" title game. The Sharks even beat Minnesota along the way. . .even in fictitious football leagues, teams from Minnesota can't catch a break.
Meanwhile, D'Amato is constantly at odds with the Sharks' new owner, Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz). Christina inherited the team from her father, and attempts to make herself the Jerry Jones of the league by taking a more "hands-on" approach with the team, bringing in a new offensive coordinator. The movie ends with a press conference about the future of the Miami Sharks, at which D'Amato is expected to announce his retirement.
There were quite a few former NFL players that were involved with Any Given Sunday, such as Warren Moon, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, and even Johnny Unitas. Oh, and former kicking legend Bjorn Nittmo. (Come on, his name is Bjorn, for crying out loud.) It also features John C. McGinley, who many people know as Dr. Cox from Scrubs, as a reporter who seems to be doing a pretty darn dead-on Jim Rome impression.
The Replacements, a movie which came out in the year 2000, is loosely. . .very loosely. . .based on the 1987 NFL player strike, in which the owners of the National Football League teams brought in replacement players in order to play bad football games that they could still sell tickets for. The movie is about one of those teams of "scabs" that answered the call when the "real" professionals refused to cross the picket line.
The team, in this case, is the Washington Sentinels. The main character is quarterback Shane Falco (played by Keanu Reeves), a quarterback that choked in his final game at Ohio State University (sorry, Ted), and washed out of the professional ranks after one season. Falco and the rest of the scab players are brought to Washington after the strike by head coach Jimmy McGinty (played by Gene Hackman). McGinty was the coach of the Sentinels for a long time, and was fired for getting into an argument with the owner, Edward O'Neil (Jack Warden) before being asked back to coach the replacement players. Even the cheerleading squads are replacements, including a couple of strippers that actually seem to you've already stopped reading this and are doing a Google search, so never mind.
The way the games play out, even the results, are somewhat based on what the Redskins' "scab" players did during the '87 replacement games. The Redskins replacement players won all three of their games, and played a relatively small part to help in helping the Redskins reach the Super Bowl that year. As we've mentioned on the site before, the '87 Redskins defeated the Vikings to get to the Super Bowl, where they thrashed the Denver Broncos. Ironically, in the episode of NFL Films' America's Game where the '87 Redskins got profiled, the narrator for the show was none other than Gene Hackman.
So, who's it going to be, ladies and gentlemen? Can Al Pacino carry Any Given Sunday to the finals, or does the undeniable power of Keanu Reeves make The Replacements the choice?