Publicity Stills of "The Longest Yard"
(Courtesy from Columbia TriStar)

Photo by: Tracy Bennett

Photo by: Tracy Bennett

Photo by: Tracy Bennett

Photo by: Tracy Bennett

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Peter Segal
Starring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, Steve Austin, James Cromwell, Nelly, William Fichtner
RunTime: 1 hr 53 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: PG (Clean)

Release Date: 8 September 2005


Adam Sandler and Chris Rock star in “The Longest Yard,” Columbia Pictures and Paramount Pictures comic story of a former pro quarterback trying to make good in the toughest possible situation. When former NFL player Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) is sent to prison, the warden forces him to transform a diverse group of inmates into a football team. Unlikely teammates, the convicts unite when they find out who they are playing: the guards. With the help of fellow inmates Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds) and Caretaker (Chris Rock), Crewe promises the cons a chance to exact revenge in a bone-crushing showdown where anything goes. The Mean Machine returns to the gridiron in this new take on the 1974 classic.

Movie Review:

Every one of us knows what makes a prison movie. A maximum security prison. A mysterious prison warden. Gritty inmates. And of course, a bunch of sadistic prison guards. We have seen it all, in films such as Lock Up (1989) and Tango and Cash (1989). However, what makes movies of such genre tick? A sense of isolation from society, the hierarchical differences between the prison wardens and the inmates as well as the conflict of interests among them creates empathy among the audience. This translates into a passion for such movies that enable this genre to survive till this day.

The Longest Yard belongs to such a genre. But it’s more than that. Add in huge doses of humour, witty banter and Adam Sandler, and you get a funny prison movie. With Chris Rock on the side, expect sidesplitting laughter and witty wisecracks from one of the master of comedians. The chemistry of the duo may not be apparent initially but their rapport just gets better. Burt Reynolds also plays a part in this film as a prominent albeit secondary character (He has previously played the character portrayed by Adam Sandler in a similar-titled film back in 1974). Nevertheless, his onscreen presence alone constitutes a significant contribution to the film as his impact can be felt despite the small screen time that he has.

Adam Sandler plays Paul Crowe, the protagonist in this film who assembles a group of inept inmates to pit themselves against the prison wardens in a game of American football. The reason for his incarceration in the first place is not worth mentioning, as this is just another excuse by the director to create laughter in the theatre that kind of ended in a bad way. While in prison, Paul met Caretaker (Chris Rock), who introduces him to the various prominent potential players. It is good to highlight the recruitment process that results. The recruitment process of the fast sprinter Meggot (Nelly) should be regarded as one of the highlights of the films, as the resilience and determination of Paul to recruit him is an inspiration for all.

The main bulk of the film basically falls into two areas: the gruelling training process before the competition and the final competition itself. While the former hinge on humour to bring the process to life, it’s the actual competition itself that is the essence of this film, as the players rough it out in the field. Rapid editing, slow motion actions and high impact shots are all used to good effects to bring out the grittiness of American football.

There are a few things to watch out for in this film. For fans of WWF, do watch out for veteran wrestler Steve Austin who play a cameo role (Hint: Do not look for him among the inmates). And for the name given to Paul Crewe’s team “Mean Machines”, it’s actually a reference to Burt Reynold’s masterpiece The Longest Yard, which is titled The Mean Machines for its UK release. Also, Bernadette Peter plays a small but remarkable role as the prison warden’s secretary. Her obsession with Paul Crewe due to his underwear ads creates many hilarious situations that will definitely have the audience in stitches. Courteney Cox also plays the part of Paul Crowe’s lover, a coquettish dominatrix that deserve a longer screen time than was given. And do look out for Rob Schneider in a cameo role.

Ironically, it’s the secondary characters that give this film the edge over the rest of its counterparts. Adam Sandler fails to shine in this film as compared to his previous films such as The Waterboy (1998) and Punch Drunk Love (2002), which is a pity. Nevertheless, his versatility as an actor still makes this film worth watching.

This film tries for a touchdown. It didn’t quite make it, but at least it falls short by a mere few inches.

Movie Rating:

(“A film on camaraderie that blossoms on the rough playing field of American football. Gritty but warm! ”)

Review by Patrick Tay

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