Second String (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Second String is a harmless, good-natured, but unoriginal football movie that simply scrambles and recycles the successful characters and plot devices which have worked for sports movies in the past.

The Buffalo Bills win their division, but their entire first string offense comes down with severe food poisoning in the season-ending victory celebration. That means they have to go through the playoffs with a rag-tag bunch of loveable loser fill-ins. There's the extremely talented dumb tackle who can't memorize the play book. There's the blocking back who refuses to run with the ball. There's the speedy running back who has all the right moves, but fumbles on every key play and drops every key pass. There's the grizzled, embittered veteran who has been on losing teams all his life, got traded to a winner, and lost his starting job to a phenom. There's the lineman who hasn't kicked extra points since high school, and even back then was only one for six. Most important, there's the washed-out quarterback, a former college star who could never quite muster the discipline to play pro ball.

I'll bet you can guess that every one of them will get some moment of glory and redemption as they manage to battle their way to the final seconds of the Super Bowl.

In other words, it's pretty much the exact same movie as The Replacements.

The film paralleled The Replacements so precisely that the script even inserted the identical sub-plot about a star quarterback being brought in for the final game, but complaining about his teammates, and just not working out, until the coach sits him down and puts the loveable second string douchebag back in, with predictable success.


None. Teri Polo took a bath, and even turned her body around a bit, but she must have had some plastic suds glued to her breasts.

DVD info from Amazon

  • It's not a bad DVD at all. There are no special features of importance, but it's a solid 1.85 widescreen transfer - pretty impressive for a TV flick.

Don't go out of your way to get it, but the film is a pleasant enough watch if you're a sucker for stories about sports underdogs. Gil Bellows and Teri Polo are charming enough as the veteran couple who are not quite ready to give up football and accept his new life as an insurance salesman. To me, the most engaging thing about the film wasn't that man/wife relationship, but the relationship between Bellows and Jon Voight, who are terrific when they are onscreen together, as the laid-back QB who likes improv and the disciplined, controlling, Landry-like coach. This mediocre TV film was lucky to get a major talent like Voight, who managed to breathe real life into the coach, and managed to show the character growing as a person until, finally, he actually got into the trick plays and gimmicks beloved by the QB, and even suggested one himself.

The Critics Vote

  • No reviews online.

The People Vote ...

  • made for TV (TNT)


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. Sports movies, by their nature, have the potential to manufacture a lot of emotional involvement. Good over evil. Loveable underdogs over arrogant champions. If you like that kind of film, and don't mind seeing the same manipulative heartstring-tugging devices you've seen many times in the past, you may find Second String an inoffensive way to pass the time. Just remember you've already seen it if you have seen The Replacements. If you don't like that kind of movie, and/or don't like football, skip it. It's not original, and it doesn't have Jerry Maguire appeal to crossover audiences.

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