Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Longest Yard

The Longest Yard is one of many remake movies that Hollywood has churned out in recent years. Others did well, like Charlie's Angels, while some fumbled, like Bewitched. This Adam Sandler movie, helmed by director Peter Segal (who also worked on Sandler's Fifty First Dates), managed to keep afresh the already familiar material.

It was a perky (heh) start to the movie, with No Doubt's (and of course Gwen Stefani's vocals) starting the movie, keeping in mind that MTV Films also had a hand in this, it isn't surprising that the audience will be treated to various pop, rock and hip hop music. Sandler plays Paul Crewe, a forgotten, down and out quarterback infamous for throwing in the towel and rigging a game. He's sick of life with his control freak fiancee (did Courteney Cox undergo a boob job?), and got arrested for dangerous drink driving when she reported he stole her Bentley.

Well, we have to thrown our protagonist into prison to get the game going, right? Unfortunately for Crewe, the prison guards are a bunch of sadists, and fortunately (depending on how you look at it) the warden is a football fanatic, who propositions Crewe to set up a team amongst the prisoners for his guards to have a practice tune up match against.

Most of the movie then dwelled on recruitment and training, as with all sports movies, the recruits are all misfits, which is supposed to provide some comedic moments. Scenes in which Crewe handpicks prisoners according to their traits (aggression, speed etc) were formulaic, but extremely fun. An addition to the fold is actor Chris Rock as Caretaker, the man with links on the inside and outside; the resident smuggler. As with all remake movies, there should be the complimentary actor from the earlier film, and here we have two, the more recognizable one being Burt Reynolds as the coach, who played the protagonist in the original.

It's kind of ironic that in prison films, the line between "good and evil" are somewhat blurred, with good characters having improper morals, and the bad characters turning out to be likeable underdogs. For all its funny set pieces, the humour seemed somewhat subdued, not overly slapstick, or worse, feeling forced. You know what's coming, but the delivery was enough to at least make you smile.

What crowned the filmed was the football game at the end. Shot wonderfully with the right moments to break into slow-motion or high speed action, it managed to convey the contact sport accurately, and with excitement thrown into the mix. You will really be rooting for the Mean Machines, as do the transgender inmate cheerleaders and Rob Schneider.

But the main theme was on obtaining, losing, and maintaining Respect, and the exploration of camaraderie amongst the boys in the hood. Standing out, in a somewhat cringeworthy manner at times, was when Crewe persuades a bunch of basketball playing inmates to join his team, as do some parts in the end game.

This movie should appeal to the fans of sports films, one filled with plenty of physical contact, moments of humour, and a predictable finale (which of course is known to those who watched the original).

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