Combustible Celluloid
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With: Adam Sandler, James Cromwell, Burt Reynolds, Chris Rock, Nelly, William Fichtner, Michael Irvin, Nicholas Turturro, Tracy Morgan, Terry Crews, Bill Romanowski, Bill Goldberg, Brian Bosworth, Kevin Nash, Steve Austin, Dalip Singh, Bob Sapp, Lobo Sebastian, Cloris Leachman, Courteney Cox Arquette
Written by: Sheldon Turner, based on the screenplay by Tracy Keenan Wynn and the story by Albert S. Ruddy
Directed by: Peter Segal
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude & sexual humor, violence, language and drug references
Running Time: 109
Date: 05/19/2005

The Longest Yard (2005)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Second Down

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This scene-for-scene remake of the 1974 Robert Aldrichclassic clings to enough remnants of the original to show what a great, solid,crowd-pleasing screenplay it was. The new film keeps about 90% of the originalstory and even some of the original lines of dialogue, yet the changes it makesare all misguided. Two of the biggest deviations involve product placement forMcDonalds and a joke about estrogen, each repeated over and over. Moreover, whileAldrich was able to deftly balance severe anger and paranoia withdevil-may-care comedy, new director Peter Segal (50 First Dates, Anger Management) forces the twotogether with jarring clumsiness.

And whereas Aldrich gave his characters ample time for thoughts and actions to occur naturally, Segal sends his characters through automatic motions, perhaps more concerned with pushing buttons and hitting demographics than getting at anything truthful.

Adam Sandler sleepwalks through the lead role of Paul Crewe, an ex-NFL player, once accused of shaving points, who goes to prison after an incident with his girlfriend's sports car. The warden (James Cromwell) asks him to help his prison football team, and Crewe does so by arranging a scrimmage between the guards and inmates. Burt Reynolds, who was so crucial to the first film's success, returns here as an older inmate who turns coach, and even he seems a bit tired.

The new film also features a large cast of supporting players, ranging from forgettable to talented, and many have their moment to shine. Chris Rock shows a tender side to his wisecracker in the "caretaker" role, and William Fichtner warms up the steel-jawed Captain Knauer role. The very funny, giant-sized Terry Crews turns up as one of the players, sandwiched in among a crew of real football players and/or wrestlers. Cloris Leachman fills in effectively for the beehive-haired Bernadette Peters role, and Courteney Cox Arquette plays the rich whip-cracker in the opening scenes. She's perhaps the only one who surpasses her 1974 counterpart.

Segal predictably fails at generating a clear and suspenseful football game for his climax. His camerawork and cutting are far too busy to make sense of anything.

It makes you wonder why anyone would bother sticking so close to the original film when every move and every second draws unfavorable comparisons.

DVD Details: Paramount's DVD comes with several featurettes, a Nelly music video (not the catchy "Boom" but the annoying "Errtime"), a commentary track by director Segal and a blooper reel. There's also an interesting section that demonstrates the special effects shots in the film, unusual because most people don't think of this kind of film as needing any special effects.

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