The Longest Yard

Cast:
Adam Sandler as Paul Crewe
Chris Rock as Caretaker
Burt Reynolds as Nate Scarborough
James Cromwell as Warden Hazen
Walter Williamson as Errol Dandridge
Michael Irvin as Deacon Moss
Nelly as Earl Megget
Edward Bunker as Skitchy Rivers
Lobo Sebastian as Torres
Bob Sapp as Switowski
Dalip Singh as Turley
David Patrick Kelly as Unger
Terry Crews as Cheeseburger Eddy
Nicholas Turturro as Brucie
Joey Diaz as Big Tony

Summary:
A near straight remake of the 1974 prison football classic, the new Longest Yard has laughs, but stands as a stark reminder that Big Hollywood is running on empty when it comes to fresh ideas.

Story:
Sandler is Paul Crewe, a former NFL quarterback banned from the league after being suspected of throwing a game. He now is a drunk living off the wealth of his current girlfriend. After a drunken car crash lands him in prison, Crewe is approached by Warden Hazen to help the prison guard team – who hadn’t won a championship in five years – return to its former heyday. When Crewe suggests a warm-up game, Hazen promptly appoints him captain of an all-convict team that he must assemble to give the guards their warm-up to the new season. Crewe sets out to recruit the toughest cons on the block to play in the game. While some take convincing, most are ready and willing to join the team and take a shot at their jailers.

The Longest Yard is Rated R for violence and language.

What Worked:
Much of the comedy in The Longest Yard is hold-over from the original film… much of what worked then, works now. Some of the new stuff was good too. I did like the exchange between Crewe and his arresting officers near the beginning of the film (Yep, that’s ESPN’s own Dan Patrick). I also got a kick out of seeing all of the other cameos by ex-NFLers like Brian Bosworth and Bill Romanowski. Wrestlers Goldberg and Stone Cold Steve Austin were also along for the ride. Other cool cameos included actors from the first film. We all know Reynolds plays Coach Nate in the update, but you may not notice that one of the warden’s golf buddies is the original Captain Knauer… Ed Lauter. Additional screen time also is given to the transvestite cheer squad in the updated version. This time the group is led by ex-Saturday Night Live funny man Tracy Morgan, who does a great job soliciting non-PC laughs.

Most of the fun comes in the recruiting of prison players conducted by Sandler and Rock, which includes some good scenes involving basketball, ping-pong and The View!

One more role worth mentioning is the warden’s secretary. Played in the original by cute and sultry Bernadette Peters, the filmmakers of the new Longest Yard took it the other way and cast a big-haired Cloris Leachman. The change made the Crewe-Toot relationship quite a bit more entertaining.

What Didn’t Work:
As funny as the new Longest Yard is, it is equally as unnecessary. The 1974 classic stands on its own as a great film and didn’t really beg to be remade, much less Sandler-ized. Sandler is probably the worst thing about the new movie. He adds nothing new. His few good moments in this film played better in Happy Gilmore or Big Daddy. Waterboy was probably all of the football we needed out of Sandler, who looks totally out of place as one of the NFL’s great quarterbacks. It worked with Reynolds because he looked the part. Sandler looks like a thirty-something college dropout still living with his mom.

Rock himself was on one-liner cruise control for much of the movie. Funny, but coasting.

One truly wasted role is that of Sandler’s girlfriend played by Courtney Cox-Arquette. She is only in the film at the very beginning and the role wasn’t so much about her as it was her breasts. As the film opens, she is hosting a party and is in a low-cut cocktail dress. She then proceeds to spend the next 10 minutes bending over and almost falling out of it! Not that I’m complaining, but it seems like any Hollywood bimbette could have been cast. It was a shame to waste the role on someone who at least has a hint of acting ability.

As good as Reynolds was in the original, he seemed tired here. There were hints of Yoda-style wisdom coming from him, but he never really delivered on it fully.

In the end, 2005′s Longest Yard is a funny, but highly unnecessary film that does little to add to the mystique of the original. The best thing to come out of the remake might just be the added awareness it might lend to the 1974 classic.

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