The Longest Yard
starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, William Fichtner, Cloris Leachman and Burt Reynolds
screenplay by Sheldon Turnev
directed by Peter Segal
Based on the screenplay by Tracy Keenan Wynn of the original 1974 version of this film (directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, Michael Conrad and Ed Lauter), this is the story’s second recent re-make. I thought it was pretty good, too, although it has received bad reviews. The 1974 film starring Burt Reynolds as imprisoned former NFL superstar Paul Crewe who gets up a game between the inmates and the guards’ semi-pro team still stands up well, so it wasn’t crying out for a re-make. I re-watched it just to compare. It’s still okay. I thought that Adam Sandler in this 2005 edition plays the role of Crewepretty close to how Burt Reynolds played it - a cocky but endearing, almost cute humorous wit - and plays it well.
I don’t much care for black comedian Chris Rock in any role, though. Just the sound of his voice is really quite annoying. Ed Lauter, who played captain of the prison guards, Captain Knauer, in the original, makes a cameo appearance here as a golfing partner of the prison warden, played by James Cromwell. Eddie Albert died recently, but it would have been fun to see him make a cameo, if it had been possible.
Burt Reynolds takes the role of imprisoned football MVP Nate Scarboro, originally played by Michael Conrad. And, I was really interested to see Bob Sapp playing the role the super-strong giant, originally performed by Richard Kiel (famous to most movie viewers as Jaws from several James Bond films). I know Bob Sapp from Japanese television as a professional wrestler, commercial actor, and variety show guest. But I did not recognize him at first in this movie, so I had to re-wind and watch him again.
I always thought that one of the best characters was the warden’s secretary, originally played by Bernadette Peters. Cloris Leachman filled the role here, and although I know Cloris Leachman (from as long ago as“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” TV sitcom) I did not recognize her at all and had to watch her again.
A British edition of the film, called Mean Machine (2001), directed by Barry Skolnick and starring Vinnie Jones and Jason Stratham doesn’t cut it. Set in a British penitentiary, the inmates and guards vie in a soccer match. But the effeminacy of soccer just doesn’t compare to the ruggedness of the full contact of American football. (I have long maintained that the perceived effeminacy of soccer is one of that sport’s public relations barriers in the North American market.) Having said that, though, I entirely agree that soccer is a more aerobically demanding sport, because it involves more sustained running on a larger field of play. I mean, soccer players are probably more physically fit and better athletes. But, they are still men in short pants hugging each other and playing in a remarkably corrupt and racist industry, in a sport featuring low scores and indecisively tied games. Borrrrrrrrring!
Anyway, I think it’s a good movie. So I watched it three times. So should you.