THe Longest Yard is a 2005 American sports comedy starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell and others. It tells the story of Paul Crewe (Sandler), a disgraced former NFL quarterback who was banned for several years on charges of point shaving. During a party his (really irritating) girlfriend throws, Crewe gets very drunk and goes joyriding in his partner’s sports car, getting pulled over by a pair of cops who try to charge him with drunk driving. Crewe drives off and leads police in a massive chase, ending with the inevitable police car pileup. Crewe is jailed for three years, and discovers that he’s being sent to a prison in Texas, who’s warden has called in many favors to get this former NFL star there.
The Warden (played by James Cromwell) wants Crewe to help him with his semi-professional prison guards team, but Crewe is reluctant at first. After a few punishments for breaking the rules, Crewe finally relents, telling the Warden he needs a “tune up game,” where the guards play some useless team that they can easily beat to boost their confidence. The Warden tells Crewe to recruit a team from the prison’s convict population. With the help of his new friend Caretaker (Chris Rock) he begins, but progress is slow until he is approached an old convict, Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds, who had starred in the original 1974 version of the film), who happens to be a former NFL star himself and offers to coach the team.
With some creative recruiting of the biggest and most dangerous convicts, Crewe finally starts to make progress. The team is coming together, but the guards are worried so they begin to spy and sabotage the convicts efforts. This backfires magnificently, as their racist attempts to intimidate the team’s running-back prompts the rest of the black prisoners to join the team, giving them a major boost.
In a last ditch effort, some of the guards order the prison snitch to eliminate Crewe, but he kills Caretaker instead. This provides the final motivation for the big game the next day, which is being covered by several major networks as a human interest story (guards versus convicts? it does sound like a laugh). The match goes badly at first, with the convicts more concerned with hurting the guards than scoring points. With some shouting by Crewe, and some rather inventive negotiating with a crooked referee, Crewe’s convicts pull themselves back. The Warden threatens to have Crewe charged with Caretaker’s murder if he doesn’t throw the game.
Crewe initially goes along with it, letting the guards pull oput in front, but when he realizes that the Warden won’t go easy on them as promised, he gets back in the game, admits his point shaving to his team as a way to earn their forgiveness and leads them to a final triumph.
Whilst it received mixed critical reviews, it was successful at the box office. Many reviewers complained that it was a play-by-play remake of the original, whilst others pointed out that this should hardly be held agaisnt the film since that’s what it was supposed to be. Despite the high number of remakes, The Longest Yard remains the highest grossing comedy remake of the modern era.
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