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New "The Longest Yard" is a bit short of the original - CinemaDave

May. 28th, 2005 08:58 pm New "The Longest Yard" is a bit short of the original

While he is best known as a talk show guest, Burt Reynolds
actually made three good motion pictures during the
1970’s,; “”Deliverance,” “Smokey and the Bandit” and
“The Longest Yard.” Utilizing the football skills he
learned from Florida State University, “Buddy”
Reynolds quarterbacked this prison comedy drama with
the iconic charm that he is remembered for. The
supporting cast was phenomenal and featured the late
Eddie Albert, Bernadette Peters, Richard Kiel and
Michael Conrad as the coach.

This time, Reynolds portrays the coach in the Adam
Sandler remake of the same name. Football is also
familiar territory for Sandler, given his work in “The
Waterboy.” Unlike the rural bred Reynolds, Sandler
brings urban hipness to the “The Longest Yard”
quarterback, Paul Crewe.

In his prime, Paul Crewe was one of the most
celebrated quarterback who was involved in a point
shaving scandal. Now exiled from the sport, this
arrested adolescent becomes in a protracted grand
theft auto fiasco that is witnessed by millions of
viewers on television. Serving time in the big house,
Crewe’s talent is recognized by the Prison Warden
(James Cromwell).

The Warden has a semi pro team comprised of prison
guards from the University of Miami. The Warden
envisions a tune up game between the guards and the
prisoners. With the assistance of the Caretaker
(Chris Rock), Crewe recruits a rag tag team of
undisciplined but talented jailbirds.

Besides playing nostalgic music for the Generation X
era, the success of Adam Sandler pictures is that the
smallest roles are given a moment to shine. Look for
Saturday Night Live Alumnus Rob Schneider with a
trademark line and Tracey Morgan as the Head
Transvestite Cheerleader. McDonald’s Hamburgers has
some very interesting product placement.

The original version is a far better movie under
Director Robert Aldrich’s gritty direction and ambient
sound. Fortunately new director Peter Segal does not
fumble and recreates essentially the same movie. If
you did not see the original in the movie theaters in
1974, this remake is another excuse to share a
communal experience. The ending is slightly
different, but Miami Dolphin fans will recognized a
familiar play from the Don Shula/ Dan Marino quiver.

Movie producers know how to cater to their core
audience. Smart producers know how to retain their
market base and reach beyond this narrow perspective.
If “Star Wars” has geek appeal, then “The Longest
Yard” will have jock appeal. Either film serves their
master with two hours of communal escapism that most
will enjoy for a matinee price.

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