36 Inches of Pure Enjoyment
"The Longest Yard" starring Adam Sandler is a remake of the 1974 movie "The Longest Yard" aka "Mean Machine" starring Burt Reynolds in the title role, which was also the inspiration for the 2001 Brit flick "Mean Machine " which starred Vinnie Jones. Unlike the original movie, Sandler's remake relies more on the comedy to provide the entertainment and is much more focussed on keeping the story moving at a decent pace, unlike the meandering journey which was the original. Of course there are some very strong differences between this version and the original, no more the fact that the political incorrectness that riddled the original has now disappeared. Saying that, this version of "The Longest Yard" is by no means perfect and has many flaws within the plot that for anyone who was to watch it with a critical eye would rip it to shreds.
Ex-football start Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler - 50 First Dates) finds himself banged up in a rough Texas state penitentiary, after drunkenly stealing his wife's car and writing it off in a multi-car pile up. Fortunately Crewe is reprieved from many of his duties when Warden Hazen (James Cromwell - I, Robot) forces him to put together a team of prisoners to be opposition for his guard's football team as a warm up match for the league championship. But for the prisoners who are chosen this is a chance to take revenge on the guards who torment their lives every day.
The plot of "The Longest Yard" follows two main themes. Firstly with it being based around the world of American football, it is no surprise that it follows the traditional theme of the underdog striving against adversity to win in the end and even though this has been done to death in many serious sports films, it remains fresh in the realms of a comedy. The second theme focuses on life in prison, with a stereotypical tough regime run by the nasty warden and mean head guard. Although this is crucial to keeping the movie running at decent pace as well as entertaining, it is by no means the main emphasis of the movie and is not explored to the depths of say "The Shawshank Redemption".
The main star of "The Longest Yard" is definitely Adam Sandler as Paul Crewe, and thankfully this is definitely a return of Sandler at what he does best. Gone is the weird performance that he displayed in 'Punch-Drunk Love ' and the constant use of shouting to be funny, instead we are treated to a performance which although is still laugh out loud funny, is far more subtle than many of his more recent movies. The character of Paul Crewe, although not explored to any great length, has far more depth than I would expect and helps to provide reasoning behind his actions.
Opposite Sandler is Burt Reynolds who plays the character of Nate Scarborough, having played the character of Paul Crewe in the original movie. In all honesty, Reynolds performance, although solid, never matches up to his earlier performances in the likes of "Smokey and the Bandit". Similar can be said for his actual character, although he is supposedly meant to be acting as a coach, he never does any real coaching, but still is a reasonably solid character which works remarkably well in conjunction with Sandlers character.
Like wise can be said of the character "The Caretaker" played by Chris Rock, both his performance and the character are solid; they are never used to their full potential. To be honest, this is the same for all the characters and performances in "The Longest Yard", all of them are highly entertaining and purposeful, but sadly never really developed. Even a minor cameo from Courtney Cox as Paul Crewe's wife never has the impact it deserves.
"The Longest Yard" is directed by Peter Segal, who had previously worked with Sandler on "Anger Management". In general I feel Segal has done a good job, "The Longest Yard" moves at a reasonable pace, there is a good balance of comedy to plot and it never looses focus on the storyline no matter how simple it is. My only real negative points are the gaping holes in the storyline, which is more a criticism of the scriptwriters, and his inability to capitalize on what could have been some very good performances.
As for the soundtrack well it's a very strange mix, it has some really nice bluesy numbers such as "Boom Boom" by John Lee Hooker, and then it has some great rock tracks from bands such as AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then it goes into a whole selection of R & B and rap songs which although comes over as a really strange combination, works very well.
What this all boils down to is that despite "The Longest Yard" being panned by many critics for being a poor remake, and yet another boring Sandler comedy, I beg to differ. Yes there are a few problems with this movie, but none of them are so major that it spoils it's over all enjoyment. Personally I feel it is one of Sandler's better movies, as he doesn't rely on his use of continual shouting to try and be funny. Even those who avoid sports based movies would get some enjoyment from the comedy on offer in this movie.