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The Longest Yard Reviews

Even by the standards of unnecessary remakes, this version of Robert Aldrich's 1974 prison picture is particularly unpersuasive, starting with the casting of doughy Adam Sandler as a disgraced, gone-to-seed former NFL quarterback — the role originated by former Florida State halfback Burt Reynolds. Now the drunken toy-boy of rich-bitch Lena (Courteney Cox), onetime MVP Paul "Wrecking" Crewe (Sandler) lost everything — from lucrative endorsements to priceless self-respect — after he was caught throwing a game. Crewe rebels against Lena's bullying by taking a drunken joyride in her pricey car, a move that lands him in a Texas prison where football is very serious business. Corrupt Warden Hazen (James Cromwell), a prison-system lifer with political ambitions, maintains a semi-pro team made up of steroid-inflated guards and headed by sadistic Captain Knauer (William Fichtner). Crewe reluctantly agrees to train an inmates' team for the guards to trounce as a confidence-building exercise before their real season starts. With the help of wisecracking fixer Caretaker (Chris Rock) and incarcerated Heisman Trophy-winner Nate Scarborough (Reynolds, taking the part played by the late Michael Conrad, Hill Street Blues' Sgt. Esterhaus), Crewe begins assembling his misfit brigade. Promises of good grub, no work detail and a chance to rough up guards with impunity lure fleet-footed Megget (rapper Nelly), man-mountain Turley (Dalip Singh), nut-job Brucie (Nicholas Turturro), hustler Cheeseburger Eddy (former NFL pro Terry Crews) and childlike muscleman Switowski (kickboxer Bob Sapp) onto Crewe's crew. But a funny thing happens during practice: The squabbling, self-centered inmates start caring about the good of the team, and Crewe starts caring about them. He decides to go all the way and train to win, not just to get off the field without getting hurt. The most remarkable thing about this childishly vulgar, frat-boy farce is how faithful it is to the first film's script and how thoroughly it betrays its spirit. Aside from trimming some early sequences involving Crewe's adjustment to the realities of prison life, the new film is almost a scene-for-scene retread of the original that replaces every tough truth with a sophomoric gag. Sandler's performance is aimed squarely at the fans who love his smarty-pants man-boy shtick and Rock gets off some funny lines, but overall this is one dreary, formulaic slog through sports-movie cliches.