Published on May 31st, 2005 | by Erich Becker0
Review: The Longest Yard
The Longest Yard, a remake of a 1974 film of the same name, may not have the same mainstream and broad appeal that last week’s Revenge of the Sith had, but after viewing it, I can honestly say I enjoyed it much, much more than the final chapter in the Star Wars trilogy.
The film centers on Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler), a former pro-football player who was kicked out of the league during a point-shaving scandal that left him drinking and with an up-tight girlfriend (Courtney Cox). After taken her Bentley for a drunken chase, Crewe is arrested and sent to prison, although life on the inside begins to mirror life on the outside.
Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) has pulled a few strings to get Crewe in his prison. Hazen believes that Crewe can give his team of guards a few lessons before the season starts. Paul recommends playing against a team of prisoners to boost confidence, but a series of events puts the slapped together team with an advantage. From there some good-old-fashioned American violence takes place, and the audience couldn’t be any happier.
The casting of Chris Rock and Adam Sandler along side each other seems like pure genius on paper, and for the most part, works very well on screen. The fact of the matter is, Sandler and Rock don’t share a huge amount of screen time, but when they do, some of the film’s best one-liners are delivered. In order to give the appearance of a capable football team, the production staff hired on former pro-wrestlers including Stone Cold Steve Austin and Goldberg. I guess all those years of throwing punches and pretending to be hurt paid off.
The rest of the cast is a collection of one-joke wonders, but in a film such as this, and with a football team as big as it is, each one of them gets a moment to shine. We have the big, dumb player who can hit hard, Cheeseburger Eddy (Terry Crews) who, amazingly, can pull various McDonald’s menu items from his clothing, Nelly as the nearly-unstoppable running back Earl Megget, as well as former NFL star Michael Irvin once again donning number 88. Finally, and most disturbingly, the team of inmates is cheered on by a group of transvestite cheerleaders headed up by a very out-of-work Tracy Morgan.
The film’s jokes seem to hit 90% of the time and while most of them are coming from the gutter, you wouldn’t expect anything more or less from a paint-by-numbers Adam Sandler picture, albeit one of the best ones. Sure, Sandler has shown that he can act in movies like The Wedding Singer, Spanglish, and Punch Drunk Love, but he still knows what his core fans want, and that’s poop jokes and swearing.
Chris Rock, appearing in his second movie of the weekend (he’s also in Madagascar) plays his usual self, a wise-cracking, repressed black-man in a white-man’s world, and it’s just as funny as ever.
I can’t honestly say how close the film is to the original, having never seen it, but Burt Reynolds’ inclusion in the movie is icing on the cake to an already stacked cast the performs more than adequately.
The Longest Yard maintains is pacing throughout the picture, and while the cinematography and direction are basic, its more than enough to get the job done. You don’t need fancy CG effects to see a guy get flattened. While you are never emotionally attached to any of the characters, a turning point in the middle of the movie has you pumped up for the big game.
The film is extremely violent in its portrayal of the pigskin competition at the climax and, quite frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way with a group of sadistic guards taking on those they continue to harass. Jumping kicks, guys crapping themselves from getting hit so hard (one of the better jokes in the movie as well), and Adam Sandler being Adam Sandler provide a fun experience for young and not-quite-too-old.
The Longest Yard isn’t quite up to par with Happy Gilmore as Sandler’s finest work, but it does top everything else including the passable Billy Madison, atrocious Little Nicky, and sub-par Waterboy. If you’re a Sandler fan, and are aching for him to return to his roots, although still show some grown as an actor, The Longest Yard is a touchdown.