THE LONGEST YARD
***1/2 (out of 5)
May 27, 2005
Adam Sandler as PAUL “WRECKING” CREWE
Chris Rock as CARETAKER
Burt Reynolds as COACH NATE SCARBOROUGH
James Cromwell as WARDEN HAZEN
Walter Williamson as ERROL DANDRIDGE
Michael Irvin as DEACON MOSS
Nelly as EARL MEGGET
Directed by: Peter Segal
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’ve never been a big fan of football. Sure, I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, the home of the OSU Buckeyes. But not really having much interest in the game, Buckeye football meant little more to me than big traffic jams on Saturdays. So, without a passion for football on any level, I find it hard to blindly follow football movies.
That’s not to say that there aren’t good football movies out there. “Rudy” was great, and “The Waterboy” was funny. But for me to connect to a football film, there’s got to be something more there than just the love of the game.
Perhaps this explains my severely negative reaction to films like “Friday Night Lights.” You just aren’t going to get me to stand up and cheer behind films like “Any Given Sunday,” “North Dallas Forty” or even the football sequences at the end of “Heaven Can Wait.”
Understandably, I wasn’t terribly excited to see “The Longest Yard.” But I have to admit that I liked it.
This remake tells the story of Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler), a former quarterback who is serving time for shaving points off a football game. He’s transferred to a new prison where the warden (James Cromwell) wants him to assemble a practice team for his guard football team to beat before the season officially starts.
What worked was the fact that it wasn’t relying on football fandom to score. It hit heavy on the comedy, spearheaded by Chris Rock rather than Adam Sandler. “The Longest Yard” is not meant to teach any lessons, or solve any problems, or do anything more complicated than to make you laugh hard enough popcorn will come out your nose.
Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that you can’t think too hard about the characters or plot. After all, if you knew what the convicts were in for, it’d be hard to root for them – especially when they’re pulling people out of death row to play ball.
The film doesn’t shy away from political incorrectness and bad taste. It is a prison movie with Adam Sandler, after all. You’re gonna have your fair share of prison rape jokes. This might turn some folks off, but I found them kinda funny.
The cast is surprisingly strong, and I’ve gotta hand it to Burt Reynolds, who has embraced his status as a 70s icon. He’s no longer afraid to score a job off of his reputation. He’s handed the reigns of the Paul Crewe character to Adam Sandler, who does a surpassingly decent job.
After coming off more “artistic” (or at least more “serious”) films like “Punch Drunk Love” and “Spanglish,” I found it a bit of a relief to see Sandler return to his comedy roots. Still, it isn’t your standard Adam Sandler vehicle. He’s not just the inane jackass from “Happy Gilmore” and “Billy Madison.” Sandler isn’t played as the buffoon here, but rather the hero, leaving much of the comedy to the rest of the cast. “The Longest Yard” an ever-more-slightly mature Adam Sandler film, but then again he was never known for his maturity, or even accused of having it.
Having never seen the classic original, I had no basis of comparison, but I still felt “The Longest Yard” was one of the better football movies I’ve seen in quite a while.