Scoring Big Laughs
Movie fans hailed The Longest Yard, a 1974 film starring Burt Reynolds, as a terrific movie, but are filmmakers involved in the remake hoping it will equal its predecessor?
“Absolutely not,” said Terry Crews who plays Cheeseburger Eddy in the new movie. “We didn’t want to compete with the first film. It’s still the best, and we’re paying homage to how good it was by introducing it to a new generation that hasn’t seen it.”
The new film is about Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler), a former NLF player who purposefully threw a game, got off easy, but basically can’t live with himself. When his life spins out of control, he’s tossed into a prison in the middle of New Mexico among some of the biggest brutes he’s ever seen in his life.
Warren Hazen (James Cromwell) might as well be behind bars himself as he rules his men with an unjust hand. He’s delighted when Crewe shows up and soon forces him to put together an inmate football team to compete against the guards in a splashy game that will be played in a public venue.
Fellow inmates Caretaker (Chris Rock) and Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds) take on the coaching job. “I’m honored that a movie made 30 years ago is still around,” said Reynolds about remaking the film.
Reynolds’s presence impacted the actors. “This was the greatest experience of my life,” said Crews, who was a defensive end with the San Diego Chargers in 1993 and played with the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams as well. “His attitude on the set was remarkable. None of us would have been there if it wasn’t for Burt.”
Director Peter Segal (Anger Management, 50 First Dates) brought in a remarkable team of sports pros to play the prison inmates. “This cast was amazing,” remarked Crews. “You’ve got the wrestling world’s Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Bob Sapp, Dalip Singh, Bill Goldberg; the best comedians in the world, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock; then a top rap star Nelly and some of the best football athletes, Michael Irvin, Brian Bosworth and Bill Romanowski. These guys are all huge, personality wise and physically.”
Sandler and Rock are used to having their own turf in the world of comedy, but both actors rein in their comedic talents and truly make The Longest Yard an ensemble film. Sandler puts his own stamp on Reynolds’s former role as Scarborough. He’s funny yet sincere when he realizes where he’s been and where he needs to go.
“Adam kept it cool on the set,” added Crews, “and Chris kept talking and making everyone laugh. It would take Pete about five minutes to get everyone calmed down, he’d say, ‘Hello everyone, okay.’ I admire what he did. Usually in a movie with two major stars, someone gets shut out. This movie had 15 stars and everyone had light. You could fall in love with each and every one of them, and that was a great accomplishment for Pete.”
I enjoyed The Longest Yard. The awe of watching these behemoth men -- especially the 400 lb, 7’ 2” Dalip Singh from India -- trample each other yet find a balance of camaraderie and mix it up with the film’s comedians was quite entertaining. Among those comedians are Rob Schneider, Nicholas Turturro and Cloris Leachman, who is a riot as the warden’s secretary.
“This is an ultimate guy movie, but resonates with anyone who likes good versus evil,” added Crews.
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “PG-13” for crude and sexual humor, violence, language and drug references.)
Read Diana Saenger's reviews of classic films at http://classicfilm.about.com.