The Longest Yard

A smorgasbord of famous pro athletes and wrestlers combine to form an ensemble of key characters. Former NFL stars Michael Irvin, Brian Bosworth and Bill Romanowski join forces with wrestling legends Kevin Nash, Steve Austin and Bill Goldberg in this quirky remake of the 1974 hit The Longest Yard. Adam Sandler plays the lead inhabited by Burt Reynolds in the original film and Chris Rock delivers several hackneyed lines as the uncoordinated black man who was always picked “after the white kids” in gym class. There are a few ways to attract a heavily testosterone-laced audience to a film. One way is with attractive, scantily dressed females. Director Peter Segal doesn’t use this scheme here, unless, you count the film’s first scene where Courteney Cox is struts around in an evening gown accentuating her newly milk-filled breasts. Then there’s the Tracy Morgan led ‘manly girls’ from the prison in which former NFL star Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) serves time. However, I doubt many men will be scrambling to get a glimpse of these cheerleaders.

Another way to get men’s attention is with explosions or high speed car chases. The car chase in this circumstance is what puts Paul in the slammer in the first place. After wrecking his girlfriend’s Bentley in a drunken tirade, Paul is sent to serve time at a backwoods Texas prison. After being severely beaten he is then ordered to form a football squad of misfit criminals to participate in a regional prison league. If Paul refuses, his time served will be made a living hell by Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) and the other guards.

It won’t be easy, as Paul is already a villain amongst the inmates. It seems they haven’t taken too kindly to the alleged point shaving that caused his career in football to be cut short. Of course, Paul eventually garners support from the guys with the help of Caretaker (Chris Rock) and Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds). One by one, Paul assembles the prison’s fiercest competitors, by explaining that on the field they’ll be taking on the prison guards.

The story goes as you’d expect, except for a sudden death that I am still not sure if the viewer is to be sad about or laugh at. The remainder of the film holds true to form in every way possible. Despite the tacky catch phrases, Rock and Sandler manage to get in a few funny lines. Some of the muscle-head athletes put in strong performances as well, but the overall material is gaudy and the story is inherently silly.

Things are often held together (just barely) by the ability to garner an occasional laugh here and there. But for every funny moment there are several stupid ones. Case in point—Chris Rock shouting “Can’t we all get along?” How many times must filmmakers use this tired Rodney King before they realize it isn’t funny anymore? Suitably, we are also forced to witness Rob Schneider yell “You can do it!” in yet another film. Thankfully, Schneider’s camera time is all of 10 seconds.

The Longest Yard is basically a music video packed with an hour and a half worth of football highlights. If the movie does anything right it is the detail placed on the games themselves. The football scenes are well done and the soundtrack that accompanies them is pleasing to the ears. AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” seems to have a place in every football film post 1990.

Fans of Sandler should have no problem embracing this remake. Most of the elements are the same. This includes the traditional ‘idiot’ mentality in which too many films today believe that stupid people are funny. The ‘dumbing’ down of popular media continues. The film doesn’t completely lack in the laughter department, but we can only see kicks to the groin so many times before we become accustomed to it. The biggest approval I can give this effort is that it is ten times better than The Waterboy. That’s not much of an accomplishment. From short documentaries to music videos, the release of The Longest Yard has nearly everything a fan could want.

The longest featured is "First Down and Twenty-Five to Life." The focus here is on the making of the film, and they discuss things like building the prison and battling the weather. Star comments and footage of the crew are present. Also of significance is watching the process of an ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback teaching Sandler how to correctly throw a football.

Two shorter features follow. They are approximately 5 minutes apiece. One is titled “The Care and feeding of Pro Athletes.” True to its title, this basically documents the process of feeding the large studs during the filming of the movie. This is amusing stuff that sheds a light on a subject most of us would not have considered. The other is called “Lights, Camera, Touchdown.” This details the filming of the game footage and the different camera angles used by ESPN’s NFL Films camera crew.

The next feature is called “Extra Points.” This is five clips from the film whose technical aspects are explained through the commentary of Director Segal. This portion of the DVD is interesting., since when viewing the actual film, some of theses scenes seem harmless, but we learn through this explanation actually took some work and effort.

The DVD is finished off by nine deleted scenes with commentary from the director, a Nelly music video, a video with highlights and clips from the film put to the music of P.O.D., and “Fumbles and Stumbles.” The “Fumbles and Stumbles” includes almost four minutes of bloopers and follies from the cast members.

This is a decent release for a less-than-decent film.