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The Longest Yard
2005 - PG-13 - 109 Mins.
Director: Peter Segal
Producer: Jack Giarraputo
Written By: Tracy Keenan Wynn, Sheldon Turner
Starring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Burt Reynolds, William Fichtner
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site: www.longestyardmovie.com/
   
‘The Longest Yard’ marks Adam Sandler’s best balance of comedy and drama to date. A remake of a 1974 flick that earned Burt Reynolds a Golden Globe nomination for best actor, ‘The Longest Yard’ follows the misadventures of former pro quarterback, Paul Crewe (Sandler), as he is forced to coach a prisoners’ football team to please a nasty warden (James Cromwell) who wants to use a "guards vs. prisoners" game to further his political ambitions.

As fair disclosure, I’ve never been a fan of Adam Sandler comedies so it was with much trepidation and low expectations that I went in to see ‘The Longest Yard.’ It’s a stretch to picture tiny Sandler as a pro football player, but he keeps a low-key snicker throughout the movie, letting the talented cast – which includes Chris Rock, Cloris Leachman, William Fichtner – entertain and keep the tightly directed movie going at an entertaining clip.

Think the prisoners’ team will win? As shaped by Sandler veteran director, Peter Segal (’50 First Dates’) the movie often feels like a grown-up version of ‘Remember the Titans’ as Crewe unites the ragtag prisoners’ team across racial boundaries. Crewe learns something. The prisoners learn something. Everyone benefits from the experience, big surprise. Though much of the comedy is hamfistedly physical with lots of male bonding, Chris Rock steals the movie with his high-energy banter. Look around the movie, and you’ll see a couple other Saturday Night Live cameos as well as a number of athletes trying their hand at acting. SNL alumni Tracy Morgan leads the cheerleading squad!

As the prisoners train for the BIG game, there’s an ongoing and tiresome joke about the Texas prison environment – the warden tells Crewe that the only things that matter in Texas are prisons and football. Whether that’s true or not, can we now place the “nasty and sadistic Southern prison warden” in the big box of movie clichés? But surprisingly, the biggest disappointment with ‘The Longest Yard’ is the casting of Burt Reynolds as the long-in-the-tooth prisoner/coach. With his brillo-pad toupee and his plastic surgery facial scars, Reynolds hardly looks like a prisoner rather than an old celebrity well past his prime. Though it was a classy casting decision, Reynolds doesn’t add anything to the movie except for a link to the original.

Even though he is often upstaged by Rock, it’s to Sandler’s credit that he made this movie, which is tailored-made to take his fans to more serious ground. Sandler fans will laugh and leave the theater thinking that he did a pretty good acting job. It’s obvious that ever since ‘Punch Drunk Love,’ Sandler has been anxious to prove that he is more than a comedian. And unlike similar dramatic attempts by fellow comedian, Jim Carrey, ‘The Longest Yard’ entertains and still manages to give Sandler a couple of dramatic moments. It’s a smart movie role in a career that has always gone forward.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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