Sep 15, 2005|
“The Longest Yard” is a remake of the 1974 movie that starred Burt Reynolds as a former American football star who ends up overseeing a brutal game between a group of prison convicts and their guards. It had a certain B-movie charm and, given that Reynolds was one of the biggest box office stars at the time, it was a hit. At its core, it was a macho, trashy, lightweight film that never needed to be remade.
So what does Hollywood do? Remake it of course. Only this time, Adam Sandler stars as quarterback Paul Crewe, in one of the most unlikely casting decisions in recent memory. But he pulls it off well, and you’ll like, or endure, him here. Otherwise, this is virtually a note-for-note, word-for-word remake of the film. Instead of the brunette bimbo nagging Reynolds, there’s Courteney Cox (in an uncredited role), whose suddenly huge breasts make more of an impression than she does. Instead of a menacing Eddie Albert as the obsessed prison warden, this has a sneering James Cromwell. The head of the prison guards, once played by the red-necked Ed Lauter, has been replaced by the equally bad Will Fichter.
What has changed is the context. When Crewe drunkenly races against the cops in his stolen Bentley, it’s shown on national television. The prison game is shown before a nationwide audience on ESPN. Rap star Nelly appears as a star running-back prisoner. Rock and rap music ooze through every scene. The editing is frantic. And, not surprising considering MTV productions had a hand in it, the whole film has the feel of a gigantic MTV football video.
Everything else is written in literal black and white with neon lights. The convicts hate the guards. The guards want to kick convict ass. Chris Rock is Sandler’s sidekick even though he’s far from funny. Reynolds, a few facelifts later, looks pleased to be here. The football game takes up a lot of time, which you’ll mindlessly enjoy if you’re a fan. It ends the exact same way the 1974 film ended. Then you’ll go home, not having learned much and wondering why yet another film had to be remade.