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PCR # 271  (Vol. 6, No. 22)  This edition is for the week of May 30--June 5, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Longest Yard"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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 by William Moriaty
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Paramount Pictures     
Starring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Nelly and Burt Reynolds
Directed by: Peter Segal
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 54 mins

In 1974, Burt Reynolds was the biggest box office star in the world. That popularity was due, in part, to a film called, "The Longest Yard." Starring Reynolds as a football player who finds himself sentenced to prison, Eddie Albert as the game-loving warden and Ed Lauter as the captain of the prison guards, the film was praised not only for its humor but for its realistic football action. Thirty years later, Adam Sandler and company have made a film that does its predecessor justice.

Sandler is Paul Crewe, a former NFL quarterback who was kicked out of the league for allegedly throwing a game to satisfy a gambling debt. After a fight with his girlfriend (an incredibly busty Courtney Cox-Arquette) a drunken Paul steals her car and totals it. That act gets him sentenced to three years in the pen. Upon arrival he is met by the captain of the guards (William Fictner) who also happens to be the quarterback of the all-guard semi-pro football team. Crewe is instructed that, under no circumstances, is he to allow the warden (Cromwell) to convince him to help with the guard's team. Of course, his reluctance to help puts him in the hot box, both figuratively and literally. Crewe is befriended by an inmate named Caretaker (Rock). If you need anything, from drugs to McDonalds, Caretaker is the man to see. Together they come up with a plan to form an all-convict team to play the guards. With the help of longtime convict and former Heisman Trophy winner Nate Scarborough (Reynolds), the newly formed "Mean Machine" might actually have a chance.

In this day and age of constantly remaking successful films, it would be easy to dismiss this version of "The Longest Yard" as another attempt to cash in on another film's popularity. However, this film is full of the humor and comradery that made the first film successful and, as a bonus, delivers as diverse a cast as has ever been featured in a mainstream film. For the young comedy fans, you've got Sandler and Rock. Rap fans: hello, Nelly. Football fans: say hello to Brian Bosworth, Michael Irvin and Bill Romanowski. Like wrasslin'? How about Steve Austin and Goldberg. Enjoy the original film? Not only does Burt Reynolds have a part but Ed Lauter makes a cameo appearance. However, all of this casting would be for nothing if everyone wasn't good in their role. Sandler and Rock work smoothly together, their working knowledge of each other built on their time together on "Saturday Night Live." Nelly does a nice job as the unstoppable running back. Bosworth has done a few films in the past and has some talent. But the breakout ex-football player here is Irvin. His role is an important one and he seems a natural on the screen. The wrestlers are used to entertaining so they are naturals before the camera. And when Reynolds appears on screen wearing his familiar #22 jersey (he was a football star at Florida State) you just know everything is right with the world. Cromwell is fine as the warden, though he's not nearly as smooth and nasty as the original film's Eddie Albert was. In a sad bit of news, Albert passed away the day the film opened at the age of 99.

"The Longest Yard" is a comedy that is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. On a scale of zero to four stars I give it  Three stars

This week's movie review of "The Longest Yard" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.