Movie Review: “The Longest Yard (2005)”

As you may already know, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 1974 Longest Yard. Despite some genuinely funny moments, it was shallow, tedious, and overlong, so I gave it a 5/10. After watching the Adam Sandler (yes, the Big Daddy Sandler, not the Uncut Gems Sandler) remake*, however, I’m actually tempted to give the original another watch. No, seriously.

The original Longest Yard’s story was a formulaic tale of an ex-quarterback who forms a football team while incarcerated, leading to him playing against the guards’ own team. The remake doesn’t change any of that, of course—just makes it even more stupid and uninspired.

Sandler has absolutely none of Burt Reynolds’s scant charm or charisma (Reynolds himself is a surprisingly frequent minor character, though he isn’t given much to actually do), and the humor only a) blatantly copies the original’s jokes, and b) revels in crass stereotypes and sex gags**. There are a couple of semi-decent laughs, but they aren’t worth trudging through the near-2 hours of this aggressively bland and unfunny movie for.

Oh, and speaking of “copying”, want to know how shamelessly lazy this remake really is? It lifts entire scenes, shot-for-shot, word-by-word, from the original, including those that weren’t even that good in the first place. The first couple of times this happened, it admittedly was kind of clever. It got significantly less clever as the film went on.

You could argue that this is fanservice for admirers of the first Longest Yard, but those aren’t the type of people that went to see this remake. Those would be the diehard Sandler fans who have every single line of The Waterboy engrained into their memories, and who literally cheered out loud when Rob Schnedier appeared in this film (as a spectator) and delivered his trademark “You can do it!” line. I’m guessing they were confused at how violent some scenes were, which didn’t really work in the original film either, but sticks out especially badly here.

The only thing—and I repeat, the only thing—The Longest Yard’s remake might have done better than the original is maintaining a consistent tone. Whereas the original floated between comedy and drama without having a firm grasp on either, at least the remake knows it’s a dumb, crass, faux-sentimental Sandler joint. Unfortunately for those who don’t like that kind of shtick, it’s a dumb, crass, faux-sentimental Sandler joint, and a very forgettable one at that. Don’t bother.

3/10

*The second remake, if you count the 2001 British film Mean Machine.

**I literally don’t know why Rotten Tomatoes claimed that this remake “lacks the edginess of the original”. The original Longest Yard only obtained an R rating for profanity, and even that was in pretty short supply, all things considered.

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