I’m going to regret writing/sharing this but I have to say it anyway. The Longest Yard is my favorite movie. Maybe it’s not as artful as The Fall or as well curated as Layer Cake or measure up even adequately in/to a whole slew of other cinematic categories but it makes me happy. So happy.
It has everything I like: violence, an underdog story, dark humor about race, and the music of Nelly. I don’t even care that it’s a remake which is usually a truly bad sign.
Adam Sandler stars (and produces?) this movie about a past prime football star who’s infamous for throwing a game. Now unhappily married to a well-preserved Courtney Cox (you didn’t know I had all these adjectives under my belt did you? English major fo lyfe) he now spends his time drinking beer and eating Lays chips (product placement!!!!) However, on the night we enter the film, it seems to be the last straw for Crewe (Crewe. Paul Crewe.) because he locks his wife in a closet and takes her Bentley and a six-pack out for a joy ride that ends up on the nightly news, and ends him in jail.
But not just any jail! A Texas jail! Which, as the warden so eloquently puts it, “In Texas we care about two things. Prisons and football.” (And those calculators right?) The warden is played by James Cromwell, who you might remember as the sweet farmer from Babe. Well, he’s different in this.
The warden loves football and asks for Crewe’s help with the guard’s team for the league they have with the other prisons “Like a company softball team.” After some cajoling, Crewe suggests a tune-up game, a warm-up easy win to raise their spirits. The warden decides the team for that game should be comprised of prisoners, and Crewe should be their quarterback.
So begins two classics of any sports movie about underdogs: a training montage where everyone is pathetic and horrible, then a recruitment/subsequent training montage where everyone is sick as fuck. Crewe’s right hand man is “Caretaker” (Chris Rock) who fit a LITTLE too much into the token ethnic sidekick role now that I’m re-watching it as an adult but his humor saves it. Chris Rock isn’t anybody’s amiable yes-man, especially when he gets to say things like, “You see that? The boy’s got slave feet” after Nelly says he didn’t grow up with good shoes and doesn’t need them to be a good running back, or “Don’t give me that shit, OJ chopped his wife’s head off and still got some ass” after Crewe was saying something about not getting laid because things were getting so bad. Basically Chris Rock is great.
So they have the team, everything’s good, and the game is the next day. The warden however is incarnate evil and he sends one of his underlings, another prisoner named Unger (a pyro and all around weird dude) to kill Crewe. However the gas trap he sets in Crewe’s cell is accidentally set off by Caretaker and he dies the night before the game.
So we do the whole, “This is for Caretaker!” thing, which works, until the Warden threatens to pin the murder on Crewe if he doesn’t start throwing the game. Oh no! What’s that quote about history repeating itself? Do it? Well, Crewe doesn’t know it either and he starts to throw the game. The prisoners are losing and everybody is pissed. But then he has a sports lightbulb moment and realizes he shouldn’t make the same mistake again! Life is all about the lessons you learn and the friends you have that die that you have to honor! (Does that come off as callous? It’s not meant to be. God Bless.)
So they win the game! And Burt Reynolds does it! By the way he’s in this movie cause he was the main role in the original and it’s a little inside joke for everyone over thirty. Lol ya know?
There’s a whole lot of lesson learning going on at the end of the game, the main guard who’s been a complete dick the whole movie tells Adam Sandler he respects him, Tracey Morgan as a trans-cheerleader learns a bunch of new dance moves, everyone watching ESPN-2 learns the real heroes are the people who break the rules not the ones who enforce them, and Adam Sandler learns that friendship is the real trophy.
9/10 Masturbate every time