—About this Film
Summers of recent have featured movies that are remakes of previous box office hits or popular television shows. This summer is no different, and one of the ones to come out at the first of the summer season is the remake of the popular Burt Reynolds comedy, The Longest Yard. The recent version of The Longest Yard features a cast that includes Adam Sandler in the leading role but the supporting cast features some of the best and most fun characters in movies in a long time. Some of the characters range from sports entertainment wrestling stars like Bill Goldberg and Stone Cold Steve Austin to individual character actors such as Cloris Leachman and the reintroduction of Burt Reynolds. There are also football legends such as Michael Irvin, Steve Romanowski and former college great Brian Bosworth. From Chris Rock to Nelly, and from James Cromwell to Courteney Cox, this movie has enough supporting actors to fill a gumball machine to the brim. Even though this may be a re! make of a former movie, the filmmakers have not forgotten about the power of a strong supporting cast with defined and enjoyable characters.
The themes from the 2005 version of The Longest Yard are similar to the themes of the original released in 1974. There are updates that have been incorporated but not that much has changed. A dried up desert prison where inmates are abused by guards and a system that seems to care little about them is the same story today as it was 31 years ago. According to this movie, not much has changed in a system that seems to be far more about punishment than it is rehabilitation.
Peter Segal does a phenomenal job at directing this entertaining, laugh aloud movie. Not only do we see the individuals within the movie change their perception of the team formed by the inmates, we as an audience also begin to change our perception as we find ourselves thinking differently of the characters. While we are along at first for the comedy effect, we find ourselves thinking that some of these individuals, with a little bit of help, could become people that excel outside of prison walls if given a chance.
One of the things that is lacking for many of the inmates is hope. Along comes a sort of savior, Paul Crewe, played wonderfully by Adam Sandler, who provides a level of hope. While not a perfect human being, he learns the value of making friendships, and of making sacrifices for the greater good of those he is living with on a day-to-day basis. Those sacrifices come at a cost, a terrible cost, one that involves blood, and ultimately life. However, they are sacrifices that need to be made in order to provide the hope and satisfaction that is missing from the hell these inmates live in on a daily basis. Once those sacrifices are made, there are people who understand the nature sacrifice and who are then willing to follow into battle the one who was so willing to show love, restraint, and compassion for something they believed in. A basketball game between Crewe, played by Sandler and Deacon Moss played by Michael Irvin help illustrate this point. We also see it displaye! d again later on when one of the characters is racially abused by one of the prison guards played by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Restraint and sacrifice are concepts that can change a world if practiced. After awhile, Crewe helps all of the inmates see and understand this.
While we don’t get strong glimpses of it, we get some glimpse of the importance of faith, even to those who are among the “worst” that society has to offer. After one character who has made numerous sacrifices at bringing people together, and at befriending one who no one seems to care about dies, we see that the first thing placed on that individuals casket is a Holy Bible. We see others moved by that sign of love by placing the very things on the casket that means the most to them. From a coaches whistle, to a photo of a dear friend, others come to understand the concept of laying down their lives for others.
It took great sacrifice and undue death to help those individuals see the importance of love and serving each other, but they finally get it. The filmmakers also understand the importance of faith, immediately after the burial scene is the Norman Greenbaum song Spirit in the Sky. Personally I like the Kentucky Headhunters version better, but this song is a reminder to the audience that something awaits each individual after death. There is certainly an afterlife and the memories of the individual is not the only place that person will live on. The song indicates that there is a Spirit in the Sky, and as the song says; “I’ve got a friend in Jesus.”
Technically, as hard as one might have believing it, this movie is sound and even at times artistic. While there may be what is considered by some, a movie filled with sophomoric humor, there are actually artistic tendencies in the style of the film and the movie itself. There is also a killer soundtrack that my son is out buying right now. It won’t be surprising to hear many talking about the artistic merit of this movie and being reminded of the songs that add to the story line. From dramatic football sequences to split screen visuals, the movie has far more than I personally bargained for. At times it even reminded me of Friday Night Lights and that is saying something.
On a closing note, this movie could have been longer, and delved more into the characters. They are abundant and with as many dynamite characters as there are in this film, the makers have done as good a job at developing those characters. I just wish there could have been another 30 minutes added to the movie that would have allowed more.
The Longest Yard is more than just a laugh out loud comedy. It is a movie that causes us to think about the hope that we all desire, and the value of friendship along the way. It forces us to look at the reality that while some things require sacrifice, those things are worth it. It also forces us to think of ways we can conquer and obtain goals from working together. While revenge may be nice to some, revenge is also a concept that will tear down and destroy if we let it, and it will certainly affect those that we journey through life with.
The Longest Yard is not a classic; it is a fun and enjoyable remake. It pays tribute to the original actor, Burt Reynolds who played in the original’s title role. He has more than a simple cameo; he plays a part that helps deliver the team and in many ways delivers the movie. He may be an old coach in this movie, but he can still contribute. His character realizes his potential and gifts. May we all learn lessons that will allow our own individual gifts and strengths to contribute to society! May we realize that the characters in this movie represent all people, not just convicts, who are, after all, like one of the characters in the movie reminds us, just people too.
On a scale of 1 – 10, for the laughs, good time, and the original Longest Yard and the new remake, minus 2, a heartwarming and fun 8. By the way, see if you can catch the obvious tribute to The Waterboy also staring Adam Sandler.—Overview
—About this Film