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Paramount Studios presents
"All I'm saying is you could've robbed banks, sold dope, stole your grandma's pension checks, and none of us would've minded. But shaving points off of a football game -- Man, that's un-American."
DVD ReviewThe Longest Yard has become one of those classic "guy" movies. It has a myriad of elements that appeal to men: football, car chases, bone-breaking violence, a prison setting, underdogs fighting The Man, and so on. It's a crowd pleaser about regaining one's dignity in the face of overwhelming pressure to sell out, and works thanks to its mix of comedy and slapstick violence that occasionally crosses the line into something nastier. After an earlier bare bones release, Paramount is re-releasing the film in a new "Lockdown Edition" to tie in with the upcoming remake starring Adam Sandler.
The story is simple enough; ex-NFL star Paul "Wrecking" Crewe is at his lowest ebb. He's a guy who has shaved points and been reduced to pimping himself to rich women to get by. Fed up, he takes his current girlfriend's car on a high speed police chase, and after some further lawbreaking, heads to a stretch in the joint. The sadistic warden (Eddie Albert) is a football fanatic and the de facto owner of the prison guards' semi-pro team. He wants Crewe to add some expertise to their pursuit of the national championship. Crewe initially refuses, but in the interests of getting out sooner, finally agrees to lead a team of prisoners against the guards in a tune-up game for the guards' forthcoming season. For the prisoners, it's a chance to gain some measure of revenge against the guards, not to mention a dignity they're denied in their everyday existence. For the warden and the guards, the game is an opportunity to hammer home the fact that the prisoners are powerless and worthless.
There's nothing especially poetic about The Longest Yard, but it has a simple power, thanks to its theme of regaining self-worth no matter what the cost. The other element working in the film's favor is the fairly realistic-looking climactic football game. Most football movies fail to present the sport well, but the football here looks the way it should, with only the occasional detours into cartoonish violence. Director Robert Aldrich milks the game for all its worth, bringing out split screen and slow motion to fully display the reactions and emotions of the various characters.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: I haven't seen the original DVD release, but judging from the earlier review, this release features a new transfer. While not pinsharp in terms of detail, the anamorphically enhanced print is clean and colorful. This looks like a film from the early 1970s, and the print has a nice "film-like" look to it.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The only sound option is the original mono soundtrack, which does a decent job conveying the dialogue and the banging and crashing of the football scenes. Clean and crisp, no complaints here.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
0 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Longest Yard (2005), Coach Carter, MacGyver: Season One, and Tommy Boy: Holy Schnike Edition
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Burt Reynolds and producer Albert S. Ruddy
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
The two featurettes are okay, but nothing too special. The first, Doing Time on The Longest Yard (11m:37s) looks at the film through the comments of cast members and sportswriters, all of whom generally rhapsodize about the film and its effect on future sports movies. The second, Unleashing The Mean Machine (11m:01s) focuses on the football side of the film, with some current NFL players, including Doug Flutie and Tim Dwight, talking about the film, in addition to several of the participants in the first featurette. Some of Ruddy and Reynolds' comments in the featurettes are told as well in the commentary.
Since this disc is meant to help hype the remake, we get a useless, glorified MTV commercial for the new version (03m:38s), which inlcudes behind the scenes footage and comments from some of the cast. At three minutes and change, it's too short to amount to much. There are trailers for both the original film and the remake, in addition to Coach Carter, MacGyver: Season One, and Tommy Boy: Holy Schnike Edition. These trailers are presented before the menu loads, and are not skippable, though they can be fast-forwarded past. They are also viewable from the features menu. Only the original Longest Yard trailer is anamorphically enhanced, though it does look slightly dingy.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsA film that remains an immense pleasure thanks to smart performances and a vividly brutal football game, The Longest Yard gets an upgraded release that should please fans of the film and newcomers to its visceral charms.
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