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The Longest Yard

Since it was still 110 degrees out at seven in the evening the other night, it seemed like as good a time as any to duck into the local Cineplex and catch a summer throw away film like "The Longest Yard". We vaguely remember seeing the original back in junior high school which starred Burt Reynolds and seemed to us at the time like more of a dramatic film about the hard life inside a Texas prison and a football game that ensues between the guards and prisoners then the comedy this latest one is being marketed as. The original was similar in that it starred football legends from the day like Ray Nitschke, Joe Kapp and Sonny Sixkiller along with Reynolds who they say played a little ball himself in college. As a teen, the most memorable things about the film was, of course, the racy language and sexual references. We went around repeating "I think he broke his F#@king neck" to all our friends who hadn't been lucky enough to get in to see the R rated film themselves.

In the recent manifestation, Adam Sandler takes Reynolds role as the ex-pro quarterback Paul Crewe who starts the film on probation for throwing football games and ends up back in the stir after getting completely hammered and crashing into a bunch of cop cars as way of escaping the clutches of his rich girlfriend (played by an obviously augmented Courtney Cox). Once inside, he encounters Reynolds who is still in there apparently and now embodying an ex Heisman Trophy winner. Of course he also runs into some corrupt and brutal guards who are portrayed ironically enough by a passel of corrupt and brutal actors such as Bill Romanowski, Brian Bosworth, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Crewe finds that he's not all that popular a guy with the other convicts either, many of whom don't cotton to a rich white quarterback who threw a football game and cost many of them cold cash. Luckily, Chris Rock befriends the newcomer and protects him from the throngs with wisecracks and hustling. And eventually, Crewe wins over the rest of the brothers by doing what else, playing basketball, and they all unite to battle the abusive guards on the gridiron. 

Clichés and stereotypes abound of course but the film is somehow mildly entertaining anyway despite the lack of surprises and credible acting. Rock is funny as always and Sandler gets through it all with a sort of wise ass, mellow approach that seems to be his plan for whatever role he gets cast in. In this case there is no harm done and all the cameos by sports and media personalities like Michael Irvin, Chris Berman, Jim Rome and Dan Patrick add fun for the sports junkie. The serious side of the film is not taken very seriously by anyone and it generally comes off as a light hearted romp despite the racial/sexual/cultural questions it raises and the fact that Rock is burned to death and Sandler regularly beaten and hot boxed. Oh whoops we probably shouldn't have mentioned the Rock thing but you didn't think that being repeatedly cudgeled, insulted and spit on by the likes of Romanowski and Bosworth was going to be enough to motivate Sandler to come out of retirement and play ball again did you. He finally makes a real friend in Rock only to have him.... Well you get the picture. Suffice it to say he is well motivated as are his teammates when game time finally comes.

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