The Longest Yard review by Mike Long

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I know that there are many people out there who dislike Adam Sandler, but I've been a fan of his films since I saw Billy Madison in the theater 10 years ago. With each of Sandler's films, I laugh at the incredibly quirky, juvenile, and down-right bizarre humor while marveling at the fact that mainstream America appears to be enjoying it along with me. Even as Sandler's films grew in popularity and scope, they retained their oddball jokes. (At times feeling like films which couldn't have been made in Hollywood.) But, I knew that sooner or later, Sandler's unconventional approach to comedy would hit a wall and this happens with his remake of 1974's The Longest Yard. I can't imagine that "Adam Sandler goes to prison" looked good on paper, because it doesn't work in this movie.

Sandler stars in The Longest Yard as Paul Crewe, a disgraced NFL quarterback who was forced out of the game for allegedly throwing games. Crewe is now a louse, living with rich shrew Lena (Courteney Cox). Fed up with this life, Crewe steals Lena's car and goes on a drunken joyride through the city. As this violates his parole, Crewe is sent to prison for three years. Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) pulls some strings so that Crewe will be sent to his prison in West Texas, hoping that Crewe will lend his professional skills to Hazen's prison guard football team. Crewe refuses this request and finds prison life to be very rough, as his only friend is Caretaker (Chris Rock). Following an altercation with the guards, Crewe agrees to assist Hazen with his team by putting together a team of inmates for the guards to play in a scrimmage game. At first, the inmates are hesitant to join Crewe and his team, even after Heismann trophy winner Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds) comes forward to coach the team. But as the prisoners learn that they will be able to rough up the guards in the game, they begin to join the team and get excited about the game. As Crewe and Scarborough whip their team into shape, Hazen begins to worry that his guards may be outmatched.

The most surprising thing about the remake of The Longest Yard isn't the inclusion of Sandler's trademark humor (more on that later), but the fact that this movie so closely mirrors the original film. Those who have seen the original will find few surprises here, even down to the "shocking" death which turns the tide in the film. The progress of the story and the mannerisms of the characters are very similar to the 1974 film. Thus, if you're familiar with the original movie, there won't be a whole lot of new information for you here.

Obviously, the major difference between this movie and the original is the amount of humor in the remake. Yes, the 1974 film had some funny moments, but many scenes in this The Longest Yard are played for laughs. The problem is that the humor is either tired or is simply too incongruous with the rest of the film. While Sandler is clearly the star of the film, he doesn't contribute much humor to the film and at times, looks very out of place. Chris Rock, who I used to admire greatly, launches into his usual schtick at intervals in the film, but his jokes fall flat. The really weird humor comes from the likes of Terry Crews as "Cheeseburger Eddy", an inmate who smuggles McDonald's food in his pants. There is also Tracy Morgan as an effeminate inmate who leads an odd group of cheerleaders. Little of this is funny and it feels very out-of-place when compared to the scenes of prison brutality. The football game between the guards and the inmates has some exciting moments, but it devolves into standard sports movie fare. The final insult comes when this remake replaces the most famous line from the original with a needlessly vulgar attempt at comedy. While The Longest Yard is actually shorter than its predecessor, it feels as if it goes on forever.

I must applaud Adam Sandler for trying something different, but The Longest Yard fails as an experiment. The movie offers few laughs and the plot is very predictable, especially if you've seen the original. The movie does offer a great assortment of former NFL greats and professional wrestlers in its cast, but this is no reason to see the film. Fans of both the original and Sandler will be disappointed by this film.

The Longest Yard is sentenced to DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has come to DVD in two separate editions, one widescreen and the other full-frame. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Despite some minor flaws, this transfer is notably good. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a small amount of grain. The film has a purposefully washed out look, but the colors still look fine. There is some mild artifacting at times and I noticed some haloes around the characters. The DVDs Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is also impressive. The dialogue is sharp and clear, while the film's soundtrack is quite loud and nicely reproduced. Surround sound is discrete but effective and the subwoofer is kept busy by the hip-hop music in the film.

The Longest Yard DVD contains an array of extras. "First Down and Twenty-Five to Life" (21 minutes) is a very random "making of" which jumps around from the cast, the set and production design, and the football skills of the players. The on-set catering is examined in "The Care & Feeding of Pro Athletes" (5 minutes). "Lights, Camera, Touchdown!" (6 minutes) shows how the football scenes were shot. "Extra Points" involves five brief snippets which examine how certain shots were done. These segments are narrated by director Peter Segal. The DVD includes 9 "Deleted Scenes" which total 6 minutes and have optional commentary by Segal. "Fumbles and Stumbles" is a 4-minute gag reel. The extras are rounded out by two music videos, "Errtime" by Nelly and a montage of footage from the movie set to P.O.D.'s "Boom".

4 out of 10 Jackasses

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