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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon


The Longest Yard

Continuing the current trend of remakes, Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company set their sights on remaking the classic prison football film The Longest Yard. Like most projects that Sandler puts his Midas touch upon, this too has some moments of true gold.

The film stars Adam Sandler as Paul Crewe, a former NFL star quarterback who was banned from the league after allegedly throwing a game. As the film opens, Crewe is spending his time as a boy toy for a snobby socialite who is happy to capitalize on being seen with him, and parading Paul through various promotional ventures.

After reaching his breaking point, Paul lashes back by “borrowing” her car and leading several police officers on a high speed, and drunken chase through the streets. The resulting carnage is not only captured on live television, but awards Paul a three year prison term.

Upon arriving in the remote prison location, Crewe is introduced to Warden Hazen (James Cromwell), who attempts to recruit Crewe to help him with his semi-pro team. Crewe declines as he was urged to forcibly by Captain of the Guards Captain Knauer (William Fitchtner).

Paul eventually meets a helpful inmate known as Caretaker (Chris Rock), who shows him the ropes of prison life, and becomes a good friend for Crewe, who certainly needs friends, as there are more than a few guards and prisoners who lost money on the game he through years ago.

In time, Crew is forced by the Warden to organize a team of prisoners for a tune up game with the guards. In a series of comedic moments, Paul and Caretaker have to take drastic measures in order to organize a team from the prisoners including a game of basketball that is rougher than most games Paul had to face on the playing fields of the NFL.

Onboard to assist Paul is Coach Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds), who provides a much needed spark and wisdom to the team and as a former football great, allows Paul to unload some of the burden of getting the team and himself ready to play.

Of course there will be some subterfuge afoot, and the guards are not about to allow the prisoners any sense of hope, which all leads to a very funny series of point/counterpoint moves on the part of both teams to undermine the other.

When news of the game gets out, it is not long before ESPN 2 wants to televise the return of Paul Crewe, and the game soon becomes a national showcase. Since Warden Hazen has political aspirations, the outcome of the game in his favor becomes paramount forcing him to increase the pressure, and forces Paul to make a very important choice.

While the film follows the basic premise of the original, it has been updated to take advantage of modern humor and fine supporting cast. Many ex-NFL players ranging from Brian Bosworth, Michael Irvin, Bill Romanowski, and Bill Goldberg are in the film as well as wrestlers Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, and rapper Nelly.

While some may say the film is predictable, Sandler and the supporting cast do a great job in mixing humor with some of the more serious issues of prison life which results in a film that masterfully mixes humor, sports action, and human drama to create one of the better sports films in recent memory.

4 stars out of 5

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