The Longest Yard
Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, William Fichtner, James Cromwell
Directed by Peter Segal
Long on fun and ballsy action it's sweet to see Burt Reynolds lord over this remake of his 1974 hit about an NFL screw-up who gets railroaded into jail and forced into a killer game of inmates vs. guards. Reynolds, a former Florida State tailback, was born to play MVP Paul Crewe. Not so Adam Sandler. As Paul, the former water boy lacks the pro look. But this isn't docudrama. It's a mean, lean laugh machine. Reynolds eases into the role of Nate, an aging convict doing time and making time to help Sandler learn the ropes at a Texas prison, where the warden (James Cromwell in full sleaze) wants Paul to train the cons and then throw the big game to the guards, led by a vividly sadistic William Fichtner. Sandler is a hoot as hard-ass Paul, disgraced in a point-shaving scam and jailed for stealing a Bentley belonging to his girl (Courteney Cox). At the urging of Caretaker (Chris Rock, scoring touchdowns with one-liners), Paul trains a team that includes Nelly (the rapper can act) and Michael Irvin (the former Dallas Cowboy can act too). Tracy Morgan, in drag, runs the cheerleading squad, prompting the ass-rape jokes you expect in a Sandler flick. In 1974, Reynolds and director Robert Aldrich stuck it to the system with R-rated relish. In the PG-13 redo, Sandler and director Peter Segal (50 First Dates) go broader and sillier, though the murder of a major character is still a shocker. What links the two films in fun and ferocity is the big game, a ripsnorter that is irresistibly entertaining.
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