Ah the month of May! Everything is starting to really warm up here in North America, sometimes getting as hot as hell itself. I’m being a little melodramatic, I know. But I’m trying to make a transition into the theme of the month of May which is Devil’s Advocate Month! For the month of May I will be looking at movies that were either not well received or received praise from critics and give… A differing opinion on each of them. Now does this necessarily mean that if a movie was absolute shit that it is the exact opposite and is an amazing movie? No, it simply means that the movie was not judged fairly and should received a higher… or lower grade then what it was given.
So we start off Devil’s Advocate month with an Adam Sandler movie of all things. I have not even attempted to hide the fact that I hate Adam Sandler comedies. It is well documented that at this stage in his life, Adam Sandler makes movies for the mere fact that making a movie means a vacation to location X… Which explains why a lot of his movies now take place in Hawaii or Tropical Island X. The man can be good when he wants to be, but for the most part his style of comedy I do not find funny. Especially when you mix in his little cavalcade of annoyance mascots like Nick Swardson, Rob Schneider, and so forth. Let’s not talk about how many Grown Ups have been made at our expense so Sandler and his buddies can enjoy hurricanes in the Tahiti sun. But that isn’t to say that all of Sandler’s movies have been bad. I enjoyed Happy Gilmore as you know and I have found some of his other earlier movies to be decent. So I thought that considering the past, let’s start this off with an Adam Sandler movie that I quite like, the remake of the Burt Reynolds classic, The Longest Yard
NOW LET’S GET SOMETHING OUT OF THE WAY RIGHT NOW! This movie does not compare to the original and we will talk about that in detail later. But I want to stress that I am not making that claim. I am merely saying that this movie was judged quite unfairly upon its release and deserves a little bit of due credit.
After being indicted on points shaving in a professional football game, Paul “Wrecking” Crewe (Adam Sandler) is a shadow of his former self. After he steals his girlfriends car on a drunken bender, he is sent to Allenville state prison in Texas. It is there that he learns that he was actually brought to Allenville by the Warden, Rudolph Hazen (James Cromwell) who wants Paul to help his minor league football team compete in their prison league. Paul reluctantly agrees to put a ragtag team together made out of inmates to play the prison guards in a sort of tune up match. Thus we have the basis of our film.
The original The Longest Yard was a classic and one of the first underdog sports movies to be made. It is a classic in American cinema. The remake doesn’t quite reach the term ‘classic’… Actually the word ‘forgettable’ comes to mind in recent years, but it most certainly captured that classic underdog feeling to it. The entire movie is built around the prison inmates being horrific underdogs. With shitty equipment, sub par field, and no trained athletes when compared to the Guards squad which looks polished, clean, and with some of the best equipment that some college teams would shit themselves to have.
The movie builds that underdog feel very well, not to mention it helps by adding the change in color. The all white guard uniforms compared to the all black prison uniforms as well as the clean cut look of each of the guards adds to the gulf in class between the two teams. Say what you will about it, it knows the story it is telling and it tells it well.
Surprisingly Well Acted by Otherwise Subpar Actors or Non Actors
If we have a look at the cast of The Longest Yard, you would be surprised at how many people are in this movie that are not actors as their first profession. Out of this cast, at least 10 of them are either professional wrestlers, professional athletes, or even a singer which include the likes of Kevin Nash, The Great Khali, Nelly, Michael Irvin, Brian Bosworth, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and so forth and out of all of those guys… Yeah they aren’t half bad. Granted a lot of them dabbled in acting beforehand, but it is worth the mention.
Not to mention when your acting pool consists of Adam Sandler, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Rock, three guys who are not exactly high up on most critics lists and they turn out either decent or great performances. Points to the actors for doing their job and points to the non actors for being some rather decent actors.
It Doesn’t Hold a Candle to the Original… But I Do Not Think That Was Their Intent
Yes, this movie is not better than the original. It doesn’t even come close to being better than the original. The two movies are not on same wave lengths! Am I getting my point across? The original is better! Okay… Now that was clearly stated again, I feel that this is why The Longest Yard remake got panned by critics. This movie was doomed from the start, simply because it has to compete with the original. Remaking The Longest Yard is like remaking Forest Gump, nobody is going to be happy with the fact it is being remade, no matter how good the remake is going to be.
If the movie was attempting to out class the original, I would hold more disdain for it as some other critics might… But I don’t believe that was the intention of the Happy Madison, Segel, and Sandler. Sandler’s carefree ‘no fucks given’ attitude towards movie making may have benefited on this front, because the movie does not attempt to be anything more than a silly Adam Sandler football movie. It isn’t trying to be anything more than light hearted teenage comedy cheese and for that I can respect it for not trying to be like the original, but merely making an homage to the original with some Happy Madison flair.
Sandler’s No Fucks Given Acting
I know having a Sandler movie without Adam Sandler is like having the USSR without Stalin, but try to hear me out here. Anyone could have done a better job as Paul Crewe than Adam Sandler. Man it hurts watching him on screen. The part of Paul Crewe seems to be written for a guy who is too badass for prison. The kind of rough, I don’t care about life sort of attitude that says “I just want to do my time and be done with this shit”. It is meant for a Burt Reynolds type… Which makes sense…
Adam Sandler on the other hand just appears to be bored or or simply reactive to his instances on screen. Adam Sandler tragically can’t appear intimidating no matter how hard he tries… Granted he was barely trying, but still… He is just so miscast in this role. It could have been given to any other somewhat competent actor. Hell, get Nicolas Cage in there! At least that would be entertaining, but nope. We are stuck with Adam Sandler merely reacting to shit happening for two hours.
It is Happy Madison… It is Adam Sandler… So of course some of these jokes are going to be insensitive, childish, and absolutely stupid. From Kevin Nash taking estrogen pills and becoming more ‘feminine’, to the Brucie character fucking Tracy Morgan’s character, and Adam Sandler nonchalantly in a sexual escapade with Cloris Leachman, a lot of the jokes simply fall flat or are just downright offensive. Luckily these are few and far between as compared to other Adam Sandler movies, but they are still just as unwelcome in a movie as Rob Schneider has become.
Overall, the remake of The Longest Yard is alright. It isn’t going to win any awards or be remembered fondly through the years, but it certainly isn’t terrible. Some of the jokes are terrible and Adam Sandler is miscast, but the movie itself is okay. The acting is decent, it is a simple, fun underdog story, it doesn’t try to compete with the original, and overall I can’t conjure up much hate for it.
Final Score 3/5
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