The longest McCon
Despite an irritating McDonald’s subtext, Longest Yard remake delivers the fun
In old-school prison slang, a punk was someone taken on to serve as an inmate’s bitch. The Longest Yard is McDonald’s’ punk.
Here we have a character dubbed Cheeseburger Eddy, a convict enabler whose seemingly sole purpose in this film is to trot out and showcase a different Mickey Dee product every few minutes. We get The Big Mac (560 calories), The Quarter Pounder (420 calories), The McGriddle (420 calories, dude)—hell, during a supposedly solemn funeral scene McPusher Eddy lays down a McApple Pie (250 calories) as tribute on the dead dude’s coffin.
There are so many product plugs for America’s leading purveyor of mystery meat that once one starts to settle in to the story’s groove, it’s as if some pimply faced teenager is being paid (minimum wage) to leap out of his seat in the theater and squawk, “McDonald’s!” every five minutes to derail the narrative train.
McIssues? Yeah, I got McIssues, like slapping down seven bucks to have McAdvertising spit in my face repeatedly over the course of two hours.
Which is too bad, since as remakes go The Longest Yard isn’t that bad. It adheres in a shallow fashion to the original script and consistently delivers with the laughs. If you’ve seen the 1974 hard-R original you’ve still got the basics here, only vetted down to a PG-13. So instead of “I think I broke his fucking neck!” you get “I think I made him shit himself!” Two F-bombs in a flick draws the dreaded R from the MPAA, which apparently holds no similar qualms about racial epitaphs or scatological riffs. Here, the remake maintains the more user-friendly PG-13, perfect for the demographic that McMendacity wants to seduce.
The story remains the same: Adam Sandler slouches his way through in the Burt Reynolds role of Paul “Wrecking” Crewe, a former MVP quarterback dishonored and on probation for conspiring to throw a big game. Now a drunk and serving as tits-on-a-stick Courtney Cox’s punk, he gets in a fight with her and subsequently uses her Bentley to make a statement, which violates his probation and lands him in a federal hell hole in Texas (granted, a redundancy).
He just wants to serve his time and get out, but the warden (James Cromwell) has political aspirations and inveigles Crewe into shaping up the prison guards’ football team. One tortured narrative step leads to another, leading to the climactic big game between the guards and the cons.
The original was one of the last good Burt Reynolds flicks before he hit stellar success with Smokey and the Bandit, which subsequently led to him being sucked into a vortex of smirks and cocked eyebrows to become a caricature of himself. As such (and taking a page from the William Shatner playbook, in which being a caricature of oneself is actually a career option in Hollywood), he wanders through here (as the coach) and collects a paycheck. Familiar faces from the original pop up on occasion.
Because it’s produced by Empty-vee, the expected music video stylings are in place, with the script seeming to exist only as life support for the classic-rock-heavy soundtrack. A moment doesn’t pass without the speaker-pounding presence of an AC/DC or Mountain track taking center stage. The soundtrack for this puppy will probably take up two discs.
Despite that, the movie is empty-headed fun, engaging throughout as it builds to the promised gratification of the inmates being finally allowed to lay down with some well-justified payback upon the ‘roid-rage-addled skulls of the prison guards. The game itself is well staged, with a testosterone-pumping amount of bone-crunching and ball-kicking humor. Actually, if some of the devious plays laid out by Crewe and his crew were adopted by pro football, the game would become a hell of a lot more entertaining.