The Longest Yard (2005) ---- With Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and Burt Reynolds

Oct 21, 2005
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:good football movie, some funny line/scenes

Cons:weak supporting characters, too many "for the moment" scenes

The Bottom Line: The Cons vs. The Guards in a battle of wills, sans the wills.

When I first started seeing previews of The Longest Yard I was actually a little disappointed that the movie was being redone in today's market. The first one is a sports movie classic, and stands on its own as one of the better football movies I have ever seen. Trying to update it would be a losing battle in my eyes, and it took me a while to get around to seeing it just because of my thoughts. I did however, finally give it a chance, and I knew it would be good for a few laughs with a cast including Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. Having Burt Reynolds as part of the cast was an added bonus, and the quick appearance of Courtney Cox was very welcome as well. To top it off, they put a lot of recognizable characters as other inmates and guards so that they could involve more characters in the central plot which could have gone either good or terribly bad. The script was going to have to be updated from the first-go-round, and this time it was going to have to play to the "flash" of 2005.

Adam Sandler has gotten really good at picking out the roles that he knows will be a hit when he bankrolls his movies. Happy Madison productions teamed up with MTV to present this movie, which I am sure he knew would be a big hit coming out around Labor Day. It did make a ton of money in the box office, and is already making a lot more on DVD sales. He succeeded in making a film that would appeal to a younger generation, but in the end, I think he also created a film that will end up just being a "flash-in-the-pan." The reason for that, is that the film really lacks a story that can carry an audience through a second or third viewing, and instead actually has to drag us through the first time. There are definite lulls in the story, and the supporting characters don't do their job of "supporting" the stars of this film. So, when the story does start to unfold, there isn't anything to keep it from unraveling at the same time.

The basic story of the film is a pretty simple one. Adam Sandler plays an ex-NFL quarterback who was kicked out of football for point-shaving a game. While living in the despair of his new life, he commits a series of crimes that puts him in jail for a 3 year stint. Seeing what is taking place, the warden of a prison (played by James Cromwell) puts every effort into having Crewe (Sandler) transferred to his prison. The thought, is that he can put him to use coaching his own Guards-only football team, and improve them enough to do well in their league play. He pretty much abuses the system to get Crewe into his prison, not stopping at threatening his safety and well being. Crewe is also quickly befriended by a man named Caretaker (played by Chris Rock), who becomes his only companion in a prison that wants to see him rot for throwing a football game. Murderers are hated by fewer people, and that is pointed out all too frequently in the beginning parts of the film.

Well, Crewe suggests that the warden have a practice game before they go into the regular season, and much to his shock the warden agrees. But that game is going to be played against a team made up entirely of convicts; with Crewe being their coach and quarterback. At first he doesn't like the idea, but after thinking about it realizes that this is the best way possible to get back at the guards for all of their ill treatments. Crewe must put together a team on very short notice, and he must do so with the only selling point being a shot at the guards. This is where the supporting characters start coming in to play which includes Burt Reynolds, Nelly, and Michael Irvin. They all have their own talents to show the team, and scene after scene of the movie becomes Crewe's efforts to win over more players to join his team. This is where the movie slows down too much for me, as it becomes more about what the people can do, than about the characters themselves. We are spoon-fed their stories, and I became disinterested in what the emotions of the scenes were as a result. Ultimately it boils down to 75 minutes of build up to a game between the guards and the cons that is pretty good at best.

The movie also has people like Bill Goldberg, Nicholas Turturro, Tracey Morgan and Steve Austin so that you will have a few more recognizable names. But they too aren't really given much to work with even though they probably couldn't have done much with it. What the movie ends up being is a tired cliché of the fight involving those who have no power pitted against the people will all of the power. Instead of being a story about the underdog though, it just becomes a film about violent football that isn't portrayed very well. The saving grace for me was that there were a lot of funny one liners involving Rock and Sandler, and that the football plays in the final game were pretty interesting to see played out. All in all, this wasn't a bad football movie, but as a movie in itself, it really fell hard for me. I give this one 2 1/2 stars rounded up to 3, but I only recommend it to die-hard fans of Sandler or football.

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