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:: The Longest Yard

I know there are some people who just don’t like Adam Sandler. I am not one of those people. Call me a sucker, but I can’t go past that goofy Bart Simpson-esque ‘I didn’t do it’ grin. Although there are a few of his films, alright, the majority of his films, that simply don’t do it for me, I always go into a new Sandler film with a glimmer of hope that another ‘Happy Gilmore’ lies in wait.

Regardless of what can be said about the plot, character development and the merits or otherwise of the Sandler grin, the inescapable appeal of his films are the plethora of new and inventive ways to execute a sight gag. When the premise of the film goes like this - Tough nut cons locked up in a Texas prison with nothing but a ton of pent up aggression are offered the chance to play grid iron against the prison guards who hold the keys to their every freedom - it just screams Marx Brothers on speed. Well, speed and a six pack of bundy and cola.

Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) is an ex pro grid iron player, at least I think that is what NFL refers to, the film didn’t make me any the wiser and not being from Sydney or Brisbane I still can’t even tell the difference between Aussie League and Union, I digress. Crewe, a star quarterback, gets banned from the game for “point shaving”, again no idea what that actually means, “throwing the game’ will suffice, is consequently indicted on fraud related charges and loses the will to do anything useful with his life. After drinking the better part of a slab steals his rich girlfriend’s (Courtney Cox) hotted up car and has some fun playing dodge with half the city’s police force. It is probably at this point that I should mention that anyone with any strong opinions about drink driving should definitely not go to this film. Despite the unapologetic tacit encouragement of this horrendous exploit and therein despite myself, I laughed out loud during parts of that scene. I don’t know what that says about me, perhaps I shouldn’t ask.

Crewe ends up in a Texas prison serving a 3 year stint under the watchful eye of the somewhat sinister Warden Hazen, played by James Cromwell in a similar role to his police chief in LA Confidential. Warden Hazen, no longer content with merely residing over a bunch of cons, has ambitions to reside over the entire state of Texas and has come up with the interesting notion that ensuring that his team of prison guards win the national grid iron finals will garner him the requisite level of public notoriety to secure victory at the next elections for Governor. He therefore forces Crewe to assemble a football team from amongst the prison population to play against the guards in a warm up match, which he does with the help of Caretaker (Chris Rock) whose talent is smuggling in anything from the outside in birthday cakes and Coach Scarborough, played by Burt Reynolds who was the star of the original 1974 film. Henceforth the Mean Machine or as they are otherwise penned, Paul’s ‘Motley’ Crewe are born.

Unfortunately the film has none of the humour of a good Sandler film and although plenty in number the sight gags are all just a bit cheap and nasty. You might as well be watching rock n roll wrestling. All I can say is, boys, specifically 16 year old boys, or men with 16 year old tendencies, they’ll dig it. Everyone else, wait for the next Happy Gilmore.