15 years ago on May 27th, two movies that starred Chris Rock and a cast member of Friends both premiered. With all due respect to Madagascar (2005), we're here to focus on The Longest Yard (2005).
The main star of the movie is Adam Sandler, who plays Paul Crewe, a professional QB and former college star who finds himself on the wrong side of the law and behind bars. While in the big house, he is approached by the warden who wants help with his all-prison guard football team, ultimately tasking Crewe with leading a team of convicts in a tune-up game for the guards. That's how Texas works, it doesn't matter what your actual job is, you've GOT to have a football team.
The movie is a remake of the 1974 film, which stars Burt Reynolds as Crewe and follows the same premise. Reynolds appears in this 2005 version as well, acting as the wily old coach. The cast of the movie is fantastic, on the side of the guards as well as the inmates. Behind bars, Sandler's comedy buddies shine through, as they have a fun time with some prison troupes. Chris Rock plays Caretaker, the guy with all the connections to the outside. Tracy Morgan steals every second of screentime he has as Ms. Tucker. Nelly…is not very good at acting. Bill Goldberg as Battle, Michael Irvin as Deacon Moss, and a lesser-known Terry Crews as McDonald's smuggler Cheeseburger Eddie.
The guards were larger-than-life and fueled by steroids, as were the actors playing them in all likelihood. With respect due to William Fichtner, who's an actual actor, it's the beefcakes playing the remaining guards who sell this movie — Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Brian Bosworth, Bill Romanowski. Every one of these guys was an absolute unit. Kevin Nash killed it playing a man pumped up on estrogen because those mischievous Mean Machine monsters switched out his steroids.
They also crushed it with the primary villains. David Patrick Kelly plays Unger, the greasy, seedy inmate who will do anything to get favor with the warden. Kelly has one of Hollywood's most punchable faces, having also played Sully in Commando (1985) and Luther, leader of The Rogues in The Warriors (1979).
The true foil is Warden Hazen played by James Cromwell. He's an all-time great actor who has played countless roles, but for me, he will always be Farmer Hoggett in Babe (1995). To see that beautiful, lovely farmer turned into the warden made my hatred that much more visceral. That'll do, pig.
The football action is really good, as Sandler and the rest of the cast actually filmed the bulk of the scenes. The movie is clearly a Happy Madison production, and the jokes are inline with their brand. Adding in ESPN personalities throughout the film is another nice touch. While The Longest Yard is seldom talked about amongst the Sandman's best, it belongs in the conversation. You could use a good laugh, so fire up the flick and have one. Just don't pull a Brucie and eat too much popcorn!