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The Longest Yard

The remake of The Longest Yard is a nice microcosm of Hollywood today. The original came out in 1974 (and was already remade once a few years ago with Mean Machine). The remake guts some of the original story, replacing plot with cultural references, flashy editing, and a 'cool' soundtrack. And not only is there a rapper (Nelly) and two pro wrestlers (Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, and Bill Goldberg), but there is also a smattering of professional football players (Michael Ervin, Bill Romanowski, Brian Bosworth, and Bob Sapp among others). Throw in Adam Sandler for marketability, and again people will wonder if mainstream Hollywood will ever produce an original idea.

This may be a bit hard on this movie specifically. The Longest Yard is an amusing movie to watch, but not really a good one, and probably not memorable at all. Sandler (Spanglish, 50 First Dates) plays Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, a former NFL Pro banned from playing football because he shaved points from a game. He lands himself in jail after crashing girlfriend Lena's (Courtney Cox, 3000 Miles to Graceland, Scream 3) Bentley. Over in Allenville, Texas, Warden Hazen (James Cromwell, I, Robot, The Sum of All Fears) pulls some strings to bring Crewe to the prison. Hazen wants Crewe to consult with his semiprofessional team of guards to give them an edge. Crewe, who only wants to do his time, reluctantly suggests forming a team from the prisoners to play the guards, and Hazen makes Crewe the captain.

The prisoners are unwilling to play, and the team is horrible. Blah, blah, blah, Crew whips them into shape and gets all the conflicting personalities to come together in time for the big game. Sheldon Turner adapts Albert Ruddy's story and Tracy Keenan Wynn's original screenplay, and he and director Peter Segal (50 First Dates, Anger Management) leave no sport cliche unturned. Heck, there are two inspirational speeches (one by Sandler, and one by Burt Reynolds, Without a Paddle, Driven) set to inspirational orchestra music. The football scenes are decently shot, but the aim is more to watch the convicts get revenge on the guards than real football. That said, the game takes place in less than twenty minutes, which means there is nearly ninety minute of setup.

The real fun in The Longest Yard is watching the various non-actors act. Segal assembled a nice mix of people, and the results are nice. This is by no means a feat of good acting, but everything is serviceable. It is nice to see Sandler a little bit away from his typical persona. For anybody who doesn't know (probably nearly everybody watching), Lancaster played Crewe in the original. Chris Rock's (Paparazzi, Head of State) job is to provide sarcastic commentary for the duration of the film, although he's not as caustic as usual. Cloris Leachman (Spanglish, Bad Santa) has a nice role as a horny old secretary and William Fichtner (Crash, Equilibrium) as the violent head guard. Amongst the smaller players, Sapp, Nelly, Irvin, Dalip Singh, Nash (The Punisher) and Lobo Sebastian (Alex and Emma, Ghosts of Mars) provide some nice touches of aggressive color, and Terry Crews (White Chicks, Soul Plane) is hilarious as Cheeseburger Eddy.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, violence, language, and drug references.

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