Movies I Slept Through – The Longest Yard(1974)

“The Longest Yard” relies on all the tropes of 1970s comedies like domestic violence and burning people alive.

Paul “Wrecking” Crewe(Burt Reynolds) is a former NFL MVP winning quarterback who has been out of the league for 8 years. He suddenly decides to leave the woman who’s been supporting him after she questions why he watches football all the time. When she attempts to stop him from taking her car, he fiercely grabs her by the face and pushes her to the ground before taking the police on a wild car chase. The 1970’s were hilarious, weren’t they?

Once in prison, Crewe is approached by the warden to observe the semi-pro football team that’s made up of the prison’s guards. When Crewe suggests they should play a warm up game, (making him one of the few people in football to suggest that preseason is important) the warden tasks Crewe with putting together a team of prisoners to face the guards.

One problem with “The Longest Yard” is I couldn’t sympathize with any of the characters. They’re prisoners and there’s not one attempt to make any of them seem like anything else. The guards are the bad guys because they come off as bullies when they’re trying to control the prisoners, there’s one scene where they’re jerks to a character and one of them demeans one of the black characters. Other than that, they’re mainly just guards. The prisoners actively train with the intent of hurting the guards. One of the prisoners burns a man alive. It’s a pretty startling scene in what’s supposedly a comedy.

The biggest flaw is in their use of Burt Reynold’s mustache. I can forgive a movie for having a stacheless Reynold’s(Deliverance), but “The Longest Yard” gives us the mustache in the beginning, but then takes it away once he gets to prison. How could you do this? It’s like telling your friend you’re going to give him Five Guys for dinner, but then bringing home Burger King and slapping him in the face. Never mess with a man’s burger and never mess with Burt Reynold’s mustache.

“The Longest Yard”  just doesn’t stand the test of time and there’s not much reason to watch it, unless you’re a fan of people burning alive, but then I’d suggest “Mississippi Burning.” “The Longest Yard” gets a Sleep Throughout.

Movies I Slept Through – Deliverance

“Deliverance” is like going on a date with a lovely lady and halfway through realizing she’s a man, but you still have good time talking about football.

[Reason #2 for Burt Reynolds month: Even without his beautiful mustache, Burt is able to demand attention while on-screen. A sign of a truly great man.]

Lewis, Ed, Bobby and Drew (Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox) are setting out on a canoe trip down the Cahulawasse River. The river, as Lewis puts it, is, “The last unfucked up river in the south.” A dam is being erected in the area and Lewis wants the guys to experience nature in its purest form before the entire area becomes a lake.

Lewis is the only one of the bunch that has any experience, but he’s also a bit of a hot head. At one point he says he doesn’t believe in insurance because there’s no risk. Drew is the guy that just had to bring his guitar on a white water rafting trip, Ed is the one who dresses like he’s trying to find Dr. Livingston and Bobby is the fat one(Way to not be typecast, Ned Beatty). So, what could possibly go wrong in the back hills of Georgia with one kinda crazy and three inexperienced outdoorsmen? Absolutely everything.

There’s a great moment near the beginning of the film where Drew performs “Dueling Banjos” with a local boy they run into. As the battle of banjo and guitar rages on, things  get a little too fast and Drew can no longer keep up. It’s a brilliant scene that sets the tone for the entire film. One of my other favorite moments comee during the early scenes as well, when old school southern curse words pop up like, “God Almighty!” and, my personal favorite, “Shit-Fire!”

“Deliverance” is tough to watch at times. There are uncomfortable scenes of sexual violence that you couldn’t sleep through if you wanted to and, trust me, you will. These scenes, however, create a sense of vulnerability where you feel no one is safe. All of the performances are solid and has two of the most misquoted lines in history. Those being, “I bet you can squeal like a pig,” and, “He got a real pretty mouth, ain’t he?”

[A Note from the Future: This movie was remade in 2014 and those lines were changed to, “Squeal like a pig, bro!” and, “He got a real pretty mouth, ain’t he? No homo.”]

The score has its up and downs. “Dueling Banjos” is used excellently during the beginning, but then it appears in more scenes than a porn star who’s about to be relegated to MILF status. They use it for happy scenes, scary scenes and sad scenes. It works in some of them, but in others it’s almost laughable.

“Deliverance” is often cited as one of the best movies of all time, but I can’t quite see it. It’s a fine movie, and very suspenseful, but the last fifteen minutes were basically useless and the over use of “Dueling Banjos” detracts from certain areas.  “Deliverance” gets a Nap Before, but I won’t blame you if you doze off a little.

Movies I Slept Through – Stroker Ace

“Stroker Ace” is a 1980’s ode to fried chicken, topless dudes and the ultra smooth taste of Winston cigarettes.

[Reason #1 for Burt Reynolds month: Burt Reynolds supposedly turned down a role in “Terms of Endearment”(one that Jack Nicholson won an OSCAR for) to play Stroker Ace.]

Stroker Ace(Burt Reynolds) is the bad boy of the NASCAR circuit. He says and does whatever he wants and wins with almost as much ease, when he has a car that can keep up with him. The only problem is his abrasiveness keeps sponsors away. Stroker’s  pit chief Lugs(Jim Nabors) does what he can to hold things together, but it just isn’t working anymore.

Stroker has no choice but to sign with Clyde Torkle(Ned Beatty) the owner of The Chicken Pit chain of fried chicken restaurants. Mostly through being an idiot, he signs the enormous contract without reading it. Hilarity supposedly ensues when Stroker realizes there were unexpected clauses. He’s forced to do ribbon cutting ceremonies and other brilliantly funny things like wear a chicken suit. Ha. Ha. Classic comedy.

Burt Reynolds is playing his “I’m Burt F’N Reynolds” character that developed after he discovered he could make movies where he plays himself and people will still see them because he’s Burt F’N Reynolds. If you’re down with Burt being Burt, then you’ll be fine with his performance here. Jim Nabors reprises his role as “the guy who’s never been laid” and sings to cement his status as “that guy who people think are really goofy but has a nice singin’ voice.”(Ok… no more “made up names for things” in this review…)

“Stroker Ace”  is really weird when it comes down to it.  Most of the attempts at comedy aren’t successful, but there’s plenty of unintentional comedy and WTF moments. Including seeing how many men in the 1970s/80s didn’t wear shirts and a scene where I’m 95% sure Burt Reynolds rapes the female lead. It does, however, have it’s own theme song written by Charlie Daniels.[Legit Note: Theme songs for crappy movies need to make a come back] Also, keep an eye out for cameos from confederate flags and the “Mistress of the Dark”(I didn’t make that one up) Elvira.

“Stroker Ace” isn’t a groundbreaking piece of cinema. Hell, it isn’t even a decent piece of cinema, but it is the perfect movie to put on for a lazy Saturday and Nap During.

Movies I Slept Through – The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” is the sexually deviant love child of Kenny Rogers and Andrew Lloyd Weber.

[Note: I may slip into some Southern dialect during this review, but if you watch the movie, you won’t blame me.]

Miss Mona Strangely(Dolly Parton) is a real nice lady. She supports local charities, pays more than her fair share of taxes and runs the most morally responsible whorehouse west of the Mississippi(Probably east of the Mississippi too, but that just doesn’t flow as well). Miss Mona’s whorehouse, better known as The Chicken Ranch, has grown into an institution of Lanville County, Texas.

Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd is well aware of the goings on out at The Chicken Ranch, but turns a blind eye to it. Partly on account of they never have any trouble from the girls out there and partly on account of he has an ongoing relationship with Miss Mona.

Things have run smoothly in this part of Texas for a long time. They don’t bother nobody and nobody bothers them. That is until sensationalistic reporter, Melvin P. Thorpe(Dom DeLuise(F*ck Yeah!)), rolls into town to do a Watchdog Report on the The Chicken Ranch and how the local law enforcement neglects the debauchery that’s happening right under their nose.

Did I mention this is a musical? It seems that may have slipped my mind.

At first, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” is somewhat off-putting. When you see Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton running around doing sexual stuff all you can think of is modern day Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton doing sexual stuff, but that quickly fades away once you just accept the absurdity of everything. They both were kind of in their heyday with Reynold’s mustache being at it’s mustacheiest and Dolly’s boobs at their boobiest.

Dom DeLuise is a lot of fun as the girdle wearing, crotch stuffing, morally righteous reporter attempting to ruin everyone’s fun. He’s like what Glenn Beck would be today if Glenn Beck could cary a tune.

The women of The Chicken Ranch are all dressed in negliges and weird 80s clothing as if they’re headed to a hipster party(Ironically enough, there’s a 47% chance that at the party “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” will be projected on a wall somewhere). In a world before internet porn, I could see how this may have had a profound impact on some younger guys.

The songs featured in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” either fall on the side of being weirdly fun or funnily weird. My personal favorite being when the Texas A&M Aggies sing and dance after a victory because they know they’re on their way to The Chicken Ranch and they’re all wearing their finest neckerchiefs. (On a historical note, according to this movie, the 1982 Texas A&M football team only included one black guy. Don’t worry though, The Chicken Ranch, employs exactly one black lady of the night)

If there’s one lesson to be learned from “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” it’s that a society of laws based on conservative morals is not always the best way to approach things. If there’s a second lesson to be learned, it’s that people would get a lot more banging done if they weren’t so busy singing.  “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” is a fun and whimsical farce that can be laughed at (and occasionally with) and isn’t to be taken too seriously. Feel free to Doze Off during it, but wake up once in a while to bank another image of Dolly’s plunging neckline or sneak a peak at Burt’s wondrous chest rug.

[Note: This review was based on a reader’s suggestion. If you have a movie you want me to review, send an e-mail or leave a comment.]