The Longest Yard (2005) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for crude humor, sexual humor, violence, language and drug references (I'd rate it R)
Running Time: 109 min.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, James Cromwell, Walter Williamson, Michael Irvin, Nelly, Edward Bunker, Lobo Sebastian, Bob Sapp, Dalip Singh, David Patrick Kelly, Terry Crews, Nicholas Turturro, Bill Goldberg, Cloris Leachman, Bill Romanowski, Kevin Nash, Steve Austin, Brian Bosworth, Tracey Morgan, Chris Berman, Ed Lauter, Dan Patrick, Jim Rome, Rob Schneider, Courteney Cox
Director: Peter Segal
Screenplay: Sheldon Turner
Review published June 9, 2005
Once again, Hollywood takes a fan favorite film and trashes the hell out of it needlessly for quick and easy profit. The Longest Yard of 2005 takes nearly everything from the first film and makes it even more idiotic, stuffing it full of songs for the soundtrack (it's an MTV production) and finding excuses to inject product placement wherever possible (it's amazing how many times a McDonald's product gets shown or mentioned in a prison film). One of the biggest reasons this version fails is that the main character, Paul Crewe (Sandler, Spanglish), is about the biggest jackass on the face of the Earth. He gets everything he has coming to him, as he recklessly disregards all others for his own temper tantrums. We're supposed to root for this guy?? And what's with the casting? Is there anyone who could personify a macho former superstar quarterback and athlete turned con any less than Adam Sandler? I guess David Spade and Dana Carvey were unavailable.
The plot is even more confusing. In the first film, the prison guards were a struggling semi-pro (whatever that means) team that the warden wanted to finally make a champion out of. To do this, he wanted his team to hone their skills against a squad also under his control, the prisoners themselves, mostly for practice. In this version, it's hardly ever explained why there is a team made up of the prison guards, or why they want to play the convicts, except perhaps just for fun. Are they even in a league? Do they need practice? Do they just want to trounce the convicts because they can? Why does anyone care? Why does the rumor of this "means nothing to hardly anyone but the participants" game manage to become a national broadcasted event?
Here's the real bad news: it's not funny. Not even remotely. Archaic jokes are trotted out that would even seem old even in the 1974 flick. Ridiculous subplots involving the gay cheerleading squad, racist remarks that fly back and forth, and many other off-color jokes are bandied about, and yet none of them really work, to some extent because the attempt at a PG-13 rating keeps the proceedings tame where it could have been truly outrageous. Not that there are signs of intelligence to think an R rated version would be hilarious. Most of the humor is of the gay-bashing variety, where everyone's manhood is called into question time and again, so much so you'd actually wonder if these guys don't have something to hide in this regard.
While the makers of this film relish in celebrating the size of their own balls, they should hang their heads in shame when it comes to the size of their brains. Truly awful stereotypical characterizations are strewn about, most of them about the level you'd find in professional wrestling. It should come as no surprise that many in the cast come from pro wrestling themselves. Meanwhile, the humor is about as juvenile as almost anything Sandler has done, which says more than you can imagine, as situations are contrived for sophomoric sight gags (a guard has no idea his steroids have been replaced by estrogen) and some desperate slapstick.
The Longest Yard should have been called The Loudest Yawn for offering absolutely nothing new to the classic from 1974 to justify a return to the subject. The original film was meaty enough to sustain itself as a cult classic, but in 2005, all we get is fast food entertainment -- quickly consumed and even more quickly dispensed of. True, not every food needs to have nutritional value to taste good, but regularly dining on greasy, fat-laden junk like The Longest Yard will most likely lead to serious health problems, mostly of the mental variety. Brain rot, brain atrophy, and chronic dizziness are symptoms you may need brain surgery to have all memory of this movie removed. The bliss of eternal sunshine!
©2005 Vince Leo