The Longest Yard (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Longest Yard is a remake of a 1974 film about a pro quarterback of questionable character who lands himself in a maximum security prison. Once there, he is enlisted by the warden to help out with his semi-pro football team, which consists of vicious Nazi guards. (The Boz plays one of them, although I don't know which one, because they all look like The Boz). Eventually the warden decides that the guards should play the prisoners in a tune-up game. Yup, the same prisoners they abuse every day. Why anyone would think this is a good idea is beyond me, but that's the plot we have to accept. The QB assembles a team of convicts and is about to lead them to victory when the warden tells him he better throw the game or face doing hard time for life. Since the QB once threw a pro game, the warden is confident of his co-operation ...

Should he be?

I think you can probably figure that out

The most interesting questions raised by The Longest Yard center around the nature of a remake. A film remake is generally not the same as the revival of a play. If we mosey on down to Lincoln Center to see a revival of South Pacific, we are going to see something very, very close to what audiences saw in the 1950's, except with the benefit of modern technology and stagecraft. A stage revival is basically the same thing as a road company production of the original play, in that it consists of different actors saying the same lines as in the original. The only real difference between a revival and a road company is that there is a longer period of time separating the revival from the original.

On the other hand, if we go to see a remake of a movie, we are not likely to see a word-for-word clone, unless those words come from  something sacred and untouchable like Hamlet. Remakes are generally different interpretations of the same source material, updated with modern filming technology, ala The Thomas Crown Affair. The Longest Yard is a bit of an exception. It is practically a revival of the original. The only significant changes come from the fact that the original 1970s movie took place in the 70s, and the 2005 version takes place in 2005. That required some changes: there's some new music, ESPN is there, Caretaker becomes a black guy. All of that was mostly just necessary tinkering. Essentially, this is the same movie, except that the update has sanded off some of the rough edges and diluted some of the bitterness which made the first one good enough to be a film considered worthy of remaking in the first place.

I don't see the point of spending $82 million dollars to do a revival of a modest movie, but I guess the bottom line is that the first one was a decent little entertainment movie which made money, and the same can be said of the watered-down revival. By the way, The Longest Yard has been remade once before, as 2001's Mean Machine, which placed the story in the U.K., and re-jigged it for European football instead of the American variety. None of the three movies are great, simply because they never made any attempt to be. The IMDb scores for all three movies are appropriately solid, if unspectacular.

If you go to a remake of a Burt Reynolds movie knowing that Adam Sandler is playing a pro quarterback, I would assume that your expectations are modest, and in that case, they will probably be fulfilled within reason, although I think the film might have benefited from a lot more humor. I guess my only additional point is that if you've seen one of these three films, you've seen 'em all. There's no problem with that, as long as you know it in advance, and are all right with it.

Obviously a lot of people were quite all right with it. Critics didn't care for it, but this film is scored a B+ by Yahoo's "Joe average" crowd. That is the same score achieved by Sin City, Cinderella Man, and Crash, and it is based on a very large statistical base (36000 votes, as I write this). In other words, to quote Dick Tuck, "the people have spoke - the bastards!" They spoke with their wallets as well. The Longest Yard was a solid hit at the box office. Using the Box Office Mojo ticket price data to adjust for inflation, the revival achieved almost exactly the same level of box office performance as the original, which did $43 million in 1974, equivalent to approximately 23 million tickets. The revival did $158 million, also equivalent to 23 million tickets! One thing worries me about that. I hope the success of The Longest Yard revival doesn't start a trend for reviving old Burt Reynolds movies with juvenile comics playing Burt's old roles. What would be next? Rob Schneider in Cannonball Run 2? Johnny Knoxville in Smokey and the Bandit? I know - how about remaking At Long Last Love with David Spade? OK, maybe two of those ideas are ridiculous, but I'll bet that some Hollywood suits have already discussed placing Knoxville in a Smokey and the Bandit remake!

One last point about the Longest Yard remake. It is obvious from the reaction of the British critics that a lack of enthusiasm for American football turns this so-so moviegoing experience into an extremely bad one.

It is interesting to note that although football is now America's favorite game, it has never really produced a great movie on the level of the best baseball, boxing, or basketball movies. The original version of The Longest Yard makes the football top ten, and even the remake sneaks into the top twenty. Here are the top fifteen football films based on IMDb's ratings:

Title Rating
Remember the Titans (2000) 7.4
Brian's Song (1971) (TV) 7.4
Jerry Maguire (1996) 7.3
Friday Night Lights (2004) 7.2
Rudy (1993) 7.2
Longest Yard, The (1974) 7.1
North Dallas Forty (1979) 7.0
Radio (2003) 6.9
Heaven Can Wait (1978) 6.8
Jim Thorpe -- All-American (1951) 6.7
Monday Night Mayhem (2002) (TV) 6.5
Lucas (1986) 6.5
Any Given Sunday (1999) 6.4
Knute Rockne All American (1940) 6.3
Longest Yard, The (2005) 6.3

The highest ranking belongs to Remember the Titans, which is a terrific movie, but not among the greatest ever made, far from the 7.8 required to break into the IMDb Top 250.  Since I've seen every one on the list, and many more, I'll offer my own rankings by sub-caegory, as follows:

  • Best overall movie about football: Jerry Maguire
  • Most accurate portrayal of pro football: North Dallas Forty. Its author was a former footballer who could actually write, and told it exactly like it was.
  • Most stirring: Rudy, or Brian's Song
  • Most Oscar nominations: Heaven Can Wait (9)
  • Grittiest, most vivid on-field action: Any Given Sunday. Not a great film, but it hurts my back to watch it. Ouch.
  • Actor who actually moves the most like a football player: Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard (first version)
  • Funniest: Horsefeathers, or Ace Ventura (Laces Out, Dan!). Each of them would have made the list above, Horsefeathers at the top, Ace Ventura on the bottom, but I didn't include them because football is peripheral to their entertainment value.
  • Biggest disappointment: Semi-Tough, which should have been the best football movie ever made, but wasn't even close.


  • Commentary by Director Peter Segal
  • Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes with Optional Commentary
  • Music Video "Errtime" by Nelly
  • Widescreen 2.35:1. (Enhanced for 16x9 screens.)


There is no nudity, but Courteney Cox shows off the fact that she now has breasts, which is convenient, because I can now distinguish her from Lara Flynn Boyle

The Critics Vote ...

  • Roger Ebert 3/4, but apologetic about it.

  • British consensus out of four stars: one star. Mail 2/10, Telegraph 0/10, Independent 2/10, Guardian 2/10, Times 2/10, Sun 5/10, Express 4/10, Mirror 6/10, FT 2/10, BBC 2/5.

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It was budgeted at $82 million for production, and the distribution/advertising costs are estimated around $30 million. It did $158 million at the box office.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C-, meaning it is watchable if you are American and a football fan. If you meet those screening criteria, I expect you'll find it to be slick and sometimes fun, even though it lacks the 70s outrage which gave the original a little more bite. If you are a non-American or a football-hater, this movie is not for you, plain and simple.

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