“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.