The Longest Yard

Bomb Rating: 

Sadly, this is what passes for genius in Hollywood these days.

Watching Burt Reynolds trying to emote is like watching a sidewalk trying to smile. His face has been stretched and recrafted to a degree that would make Joan Rivers grimace (as close as she's capable). His best bet for a realistic role would be something like "Mannequin 3."

Playing it almost straight, Adam Sandler takes on Reynolds's 1974 role as Paul Crewe, a disgraced former MVP quarterback banned from the league for shaving points off a game. When Crewe finally gets fed up with his sugar momma (Courteney Cox), he takes her car, goes on a drunken driving spree and violates his parole, leaving him to serve several years in prison.

The prison staff has fielded a team for a semi-pro football league and Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) hopes Crewe will provide some tips for his team of ringer guards (Bill Romanowski, Kevin Nash, Steve Austin, Brian Bosworth). Crewe eventually suggests a tune-up game between the guards and the prisoners and goes about recruiting a team of the meanest cons he can find.

One of those men turns out to be Reynolds, who plays Nate Scarborough, a former Heisman Trophy winner. Nate helps coach the team while Caretaker (Chris Rock) helps Crewe recruit. Little is added to the original formula and the screenplay is nearly identical. There are only slight variations: Instead of Crewe rifling the ball into the groin of an opposing player as in the original, he launches it into the groin of a crooked referee. Sadly, this is what passes for genius in Hollywood these days.

What's different about the remake is the increased role for Scarborough and the number of unnecessary cutaway shots to his reactions, which is particularly confusing since Reynolds's disapproving, amused, horrified and gleeful faces are indistinguishable. In the original, the Scarborough role is a minor one, but in the remake, Reynolds is in too many scenes, looking more lost than Jim Carrey at the Oscars.

Ninety percent of the film's jokes come from either gay-bashing or some exaggerated bit of man-on-man physical violence. While this shouldn't be seen as unusual for a prison movie, one particular scene stands out. After the Warden floods the cons' football field, they go romping about to the tune of "Have You Ever Seen the Rain." This slow-motion male-bonding scene is so dripping with irony that if there were an MPAA strictly for homoerotic content, this scene might need to be cut to get back to an "R" rating.

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