The Longest Yard movie review, Peter Segal, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, James Cromwell. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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"The Longest Yard"
2 stars
109 minutes | Rated: PG-13
WIDE: Friday, May 27, 2005
Directed by Peter Segal

Starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, William Fichtner, James Cromwell, Cloris Leachman, Tracy Morgan, Nelly, Brian Bosworth, David Patrick Kelly, Michael Irvin, Bill Romanowski, Joey Diaz, Kevin Nash, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Bill Goldberg, Bob Sapp, Dalip Singh, Courtney Cox Arquette

Read our interview with NAME Chris Rock (2003)

  • Football
  • Peter Segal
  • Adam Sandler
  • Chris Rock
  • Burt Reynolds
  • William Fichtner
  • James Cromwell
  • Cloris Leachman
  • Tracy Morgan
  • Terry Crews
  • Courtney Cox Arquette

  •  LINKS for this film
    Official siteShowtimes
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    at Internet Movie Database
    As an imprisoned QB coaching a team of inmates against a team of guards, the star gets upstaged by both

    By Rob Blackwelder

    When Adam Sandler isn't interesting enough to hold your attention in an Adam Sandler movie, something is certainly amiss. In "The Longest Yard" -- an off-balance remake of Burt Reynolds' 1974 prison-football comedy -- the star's underwritten character loses all sense of personality after the opening scene, in which his washed-up, alcoholic loser, ex-NFL quarterback leads police on a drunken high-speed chase.

    Thus imprisoned in a dusty desert lock-up where the abusive, steroid-pumped guards (all played by wrestlers or former pro football linemen) have their own pigskin league, Sandler is compelled by the nasty warden (James Cromwell) to coach a scabby team of inmates for his boys to beat up on in practice. But for some reason known only to the screenwriter, these practices never happen. Instead, the movie follows the standard Big Game plot, and Sandler (who doesn't have the body mass to be credible as a former football player) recruits and trains the biggest, meanest prisoners he can find, then leads them onto the field himself (with Reynolds' help as another ex-NFL inmate) for a full-contact finale picked up by ESPN2 for a novelty national broadcast.

    Unfortunately, once he's in the hoosegow and sobered up, all the bite goes out of Sandler's QB and he is severely upstaged by the cast of crazies (Cloris Leachman is the warden's aged, sex-mad secretary, Tracey Morgan leads the transvestite cheerleading squad) and muscle-bound toughs (Brian Bosworth, Michael Irvin, Bill Romanowski, Steve Austin, Bill Goldberg, etc.). Most of these guys can barely act, but at least director Peter Segal ("50 First Dates") figures out how to use them for laughs.

    What Segal can't seem to do is get a handle on the movie's balance of comedy and drama, on one hand relying heavily on race-based one-liners (Chris Rock plays the joint's resident wisecracker), while on the other trying for moments of poignancy that fall awkwardly flat. Because "The Longest Yard" takes itself seriously at times, it's harder to forgive the occasional gigantic plot hole -- like the fact that the inmates seem to have access to any room they want in the penal complex, even getting into the guards' locker room and personnel files.

    Once the climactic game begins, the movie rebounds briefly because unlike in more cliché-driven sports flicks, everybody here is playing dirty, and Sandler -- whose character had originally been kicked out of the NFL for point-shaving -- is faced with an ultimatum from the now-threatened warden: Either throw the game or get framed for a recent prison murder. But these scenes are undermined by such an overkill of editing (split-screens, zooms and varying camera speeds are used creatively but excessively) and such a surfeit of play-by-play narration that it soon feels as if the players are following the directions of ESPN's Chris Berman (in an extended cameo), instead of Berman just describing their action on the field.

    Had "The Longest Yard" been either a little dumber or a little smarter, it might have overcome its underdeveloped game plan and underwritten lead character. But Adam Sandler (also the film's producer) and Peter Segal fumbled the ball.

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