Longest Yard [2005]

Adam Sandler is no Burt Reynolds, but his remake of The Longest Yard is amusing enough to stand on its own. Inheriting the role played by Reynolds played in the 1974 original, Sandler plays Paul Crewe, a scandalized former football star who violates his parole and winds up back in the slammer, where an ambitious, corrupt warden (James Cromwell) manipulates him into forming a convict football squad to compete with a team of bullying prison guards. But where the original (directed with characteristic ruggedness by Robert Aldrich) was a semi-comic study of inmate resistance against powerful oppressors, Sandler's version is a formulaic comedy about winning against the bad guys. That makes it a softer, less meaningful film, and Sandler (reuniting here with Peter Segal after Anger Management and 50 First Dates) lacks the depth to convey anything more than amiable redemption, resulting in a movie that's easily enjoyed and easily forgotten. A co-starring role for Chris Rock could have been electrifying; instead it's just OK, as is Reynolds as the prison team's old-pro coach. That leaves us with a few good laughs on the football field and from Cloris Leachman as the warden's elderly, oversexed secretary, good work from rapper Nelly in a supporting role, and the lovely sight of Courteney Cox (as Crewe's nagging girlfriend) in a dazzling low-cut dress. In unnecessary remakes like this, fringe benefits count for a lot. --Jeff Shannon

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