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Longest Yard’ nearly goes distance

Mark Bemenderfer | Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Remakes have become a staple in Hollywood these past years. They do well financially, as they appeal to fans as well as newcomers. However, they are almost universally panned by critics for not reaching the bar the previous movie set.

Fortunately, the remake of the 1970s classic “The Longest Yard,” directed by Peter Segal, proves to be a solid effort, both standalone and as a remake. It may not be incredibly deep, but it was also never meant to be. As a piece of pure entertainment, it succeeds admirably.

One of the traits that “The Longest Yard” has going for it is that it has almost as much star power as “Ocean’s Eleven.” Starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, Nelly, Bill Goldberg, Tracy Morgan and a wealth of others, it proves to be worth watching for sheer screen charisma alone.

Each star is given more than a simple cameo, however. They all play important roles within the movie, to varying extents. Of course, some actors get more screen time compared to others, but that only works to heighten the enjoyment when comedian Tracy Morgan or Kevin Nash pops onto the screen.

The story at first almost seems secondary to the characters on the screen, but fortunately, it’s ultimately not. If there is any real complaint, it’s that the movie is too short. A little more time could have been well spent developing each of the characters, but as the movie stands now the lack of background doesn’t hurt its flow.

The sound and video on the DVD are up to standards, meaning that they neither stand out nor detract from the movie. However, with the movie largely set in a prison, it’s unlikely the image quality could be much improved to any real effect.

The extras on a DVD that star this many personalities tend to go either two ways, often being a bare bones release. Fortunately “The Longest Yard” went the other way, with the extras filled with as much charisma as the movie.

“First Down and Twenty-Five to Life” is one of the best features, as it shows most of the actors talking about their roles, the difficulties they encountered trying to act like real football players and what it was like filming in a desert, in a real jail. However, it also looks like the standard extra, so the video quality isn’t the greatest.

Another interesting feature, at least for non-athletes, is “The Care and Feeding of Pro Athletes.” Since many of the actors in the movie were actual football players, or at least athletic enough to be one, they had to be fed proportionate amounts. It is an interesting feature for those who never experienced the athletic appetite first-hand.

The other features are equally entertaining and informative, running the gamut from how producers made the hits look real to the computer rendered tennis ball in the movie. It’s a decent inclusion for the computer aficionados out there.

Overall, the movie may not be the deepest around, or the most logical. But it wasn’t intended for that. It was intended to be a good, humorous football movie, at which it succeeds nicely. The hits look real, and the actors could pass for real football players, which is good enough for a lightweight film like “The Longest Yard.”