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The Longest Yard (2005): Average Guy Movie Review

Hollywood's punching bag, Adam Sandler stars in the remake of 1974's The Longest Yard (A.K.A. The Mean Machine). Slated by critics, it still took $47.6 million on its opening weekend, the largest of Sandler's career and became the second highest grossing sports comedy of all time. Sandler's The Waterboy holds the top spot.

Disgraced American Football player Paul Crewe (Sandler) finds himself serving three years in prison after a drunken joyride. There he's coerced by the Warden to assist the guards' football team. Crewe suggests a "tune-up" game to boost the guards' confidence. Along with Caretaker (Chris Rock) and former college football star Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds - star of the 1974 original), Crewe must recruit and train a team of prisoners. Thanks in part to the guards' efforts to hinder Crewe and his motley bunch, what starts as a "tune-up" game quickly turns into a grudge match of sorts.

Maybe it's because it's a remake but this doesn't feel like a typical Adam Sandler movie. Even though Sandler plays his usual flawed yet loveable rogue in this underdog story, and the antics on the part of the prisoners match up with other Sandler movies such as swapping a guard's anabolic steroids for oestrogen tablets. One of the criticisms of the remake was the replacement of "uncompromising violence, dark comedy and grit with juvenile humour and visual gags", but even if it doesn't feel like it, this Longest Yard is still an Adam Sandler movie and I don't think gritty would work. Plus in 2005 you're playing to a very different audience than in 1974 and without the humour change the production company wouldn't have got the 12A rating they were aiming for.

What makes this movie so enjoyable is you can just watch it, you don't have to engage full brain power and it will make you laugh. Unless you're Montgomery Burns, everyone loves an underdog story. The funny thing about this underdog story is that the underdogs are the inmates. Rooting for the inmates in the real world would seem more than strange, but in the movie it's achieved by making the guards evil. And when I say evil I mean Clancy Brown's Captain Hadley from The Shawshank Redemption on steroids. Add to that a slimey, cheating Warden and a prison snitch who would sell out his own mother and all of a sudden it doesn't matter what those inmates did to wind up in prison, you not only want them to win, but enjoy watching them get revenge on the guards with some interesting tackles.

It seems for now at least, that Adam Sandler will remain one of Hollywood's punching bags. His comedies will continue to be the but of jokes, despite the fact that they have grossed over $2 billion. Granted some of his movies are goddam awful but name one actor who hasn't made a bad movie, even Harrison Ford made Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (no I won't let that go). What critics don't seem to realise is that not all movies have to engage us 100% or create awareness, sometimes you just want to chill out and laugh at something stupid! A point proven by the fact that according to Netflix; as of January 2015 The Ridiculous Six was viewed more times in thirty days than any other movie in their history. The Longest Yard is another one of those chill out movies, if you don't believe me, just watch it and don't think too hard.

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