Published May 01, 2005A remake of the 1974 film, The Longest Yard stars two of comedy's heavyweights Adam Sandler and Chris Rock in a bid to revise an old favourite. Sandler plays Paul Crewe, a former NFL MVP quarterback has-been who was kicked out of the league for a points shaving scandal. After he is arrested for stealing and drunkenly driving his girlfriend's (a well-endowed Courtney Cox) car into a hot police pursuit, he is sent to prison in Texas, where the warden (James Cromwell) bullies him into forming a football team of inmates to challenge his prized team of guards.
With the help of his new trusty sidekick (Rock) and an old Heisman Trophy winner (Burt Reynolds, who played the lead role in the original), Crewe goes on to convert his team of misfit cons (featuring Nelly, former Cowboy Michael Irvin and wrestler Bill Goldberg) into contenders against the guards' team, led by William Fichtner and a number of familiar wrestling faces. Unfortunately, Segal's follow-up to two other Sandler films (50 First Dates and Anger Management) misses the mark of what makes sports comedies enjoyable: laughs. Other than the opening scenes where Sandler plays a drunken slob, his gift for the joke feels absent much of the time, which is a real disappointment, considering how well he did with golf in Happy Gilmore.
Rock unfortunately doesn't pick up any of the slack with this his bit part, giving an embarrassing performance that finds him recycling the same jokes he was using about the "downtrodden black man" from a decade ago. Worst of all though is how The Longest Yard fails to show much of a societal evolution in the 31 years since the original was made. The racism the white guards (mainly the abysmal "Stone Cold" Steve Austin) unleash on the black inmates is not shocking, as this is in a prison in Texas of all states, but the overzealous treatment of homosexuality, primarily with the cheerleading squad (led by Tracy Morgan), is brash and offensive.
The only real saving grace for this film is the actual sports footage. Segal does shoot some great action scenes (mostly involving violence) with some clever plays most notably the repeated throwing of the ball at the biased ref's nuts leaving the true sports fan enchanted for the second half of the film. But NFL fans should be warned of the cameo by beloved announcer Chris "Bam Bam" Berman he does go all the way with his overacting and it's as excruciating as the pain the crooked ref's testicles endured to watch. (Paramount)