"Longest Yard" broke through a lot of obstacles on the way to a touchdown at the box office: things like the fact that probably only a small fraction of the audiences that lined up for this picture were familiar with the original (both films share a good deal of similarities), and that the critical reception for the picture was not exactly warm. Still, the picture kept on steamrolling through the Summer, ending up with a take of nearly $160m
"Longest Yard" stars Adam Sandler as Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, a former football player who got severely busted for throwing a game, now living with a irritable rich girlfriend (Courtney Cox, good in a small role). After an argument, Paul takes her Bentley out for a ride on the town, getting the attention of some police officers who are quite close when Paul wrecks the expensive sportscar.
Not long after Crewe arrives at the prison, the Warden (James Cromwell) keeps pressuring Crewe to put coach the team of prison guards. After going through some punishment for refusing, Paul comes up with the idea of having the players go through a tune-up game - playing against a weak team - in order to get their confidence up. The warden likes the idea enough to suggest that Paul put together a team of prisoners. So begins a lengthy recruiting sequence, where Crewe gets an assist in building the team from Caretaker (Chris Rock). Their "draft" includes a former Heisman winner for a coach (Burt Reynolds) and a series of other varied troublemakers (including Nelly and a few former NFLers).
"Longest Yard" does have some funny bits - some throwaway gags get a chuckle and some bits here-and-there work, but there are some issues throughout. The main problem is the running time - at nearly two hours, the picture could have been a lot tighter had 15-20 minutes been chopped out. Things like the section where the players are recruited from around the prison are examples of segments that go on longer than they should have. Also, the big game sequence ends up taking too long to arrive.
There are some other problems, as well, such as some of the creaky, predictable low-brow humor and the fact that McDonalds gets a bit too obnoxious a product placement in the movie. The performances aren't a high note, but they also aren't too bad, as Sandler offers one of his better efforts, and Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Burt Reynolds and others (including a bunch of former NFL players) are fine in supporting roles.
Overall, "Longest Yard" is rather overlong and forgettable, but some funny bits and decent performances make the film work well enough to be a passable time waster.
VIDEO: "Longest Yard" is presented by Paramount in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation isn't outstanding, but it's fairly good throughout. Sharpness and detail are satisfactory, as the picture appeared crisp, but not exactly razor sharp, throughout.
The presentation's main concern is the presence of moderate edge enhancement in several scenes, which does cause some distraction. Thankfully, that's the only issue with this effort, as no pixelation, print flaws, shimmering or other problems were seen. Colors remained crisp and vivid, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation didn't exactly light up the scoreboards throughout, but the music tracks throughout the movie certainly do sound dynamic and bassy, with some reinforcement from the surrounds. The rear speakers also deliver the occasional discrete sound effects and environmental audio. Sound effects are punchy and forceful, while dialogue remains crisp and clear. Overall, a pretty entertaining (although not exactly subtle in any way) presentation.
EXTRAS: "First Down and 25 to Life" is the nearly 21-minute "making of" documentary, where director Peter Segal, production designer Perry Blake, Sandler and others discuss the making of the movie. This is certainly better than the usual promotional documentary effort, with some looks at the stormy conditions - including two lightning hits on set - that the production had to deal with. We also find out about casting, creation of new shoes for the actors, how the actors had to learn football and rehearse for the big game sequence.
"Care and Feeding of Pro Athletes" takes a look at the kind of catering that has to be in place when pro footballers are on-set. "Lights! Camera! Touchdown!" is a look at how the football sequences were filmed. "Extra Points" are 5 bits of footage that involved visual effects, and director Peter Segal narrates these clips. Segal provides an optional commentary for nine deleted scenes. There's also a Nelly music video, a highlight reel and bloopers. A whole bunch of ads for other Paramount titles (the "Honeymooners" remake, "Hustle and Flow", the "Bad News Bears" remake and others) play before the main menu.
Final Thoughts: "Longest Yard" goes too far into overtime and some of the jokes deserve a penalty, but the flick does have some funny moments and satisfactory performances. Paramount's DVD edition provides adequate video quality and solid audio, as well as a decent helping of supplemental features. Recommended for fans, while those who haven't seen the movie should try a rental first.
The Film B-