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Film / The Longest Yard

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The Longest Yard is a 1974 movie starring Burt Reynolds, that was later remade in 2005 starring Adam Sandler. It combines the two things men care the most about: prisons and football.

Former NFL quarterback Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, who had been kicked out of football for shaving points off a game, finds himself on the wrong side of the law and is sent to a state penitentiary (Citrus State Prison in the original film, Allenville in the remake). The prison is known for having a semi-pro football team made up entirely of prison guards, but their team has fallen on hard times. The warden (Eddie Albert in the original and James Cromwell in the remake) wants Crewe to help turn things around, by assembling a team made up of fellow inmates to serve as a tune-up game for the guards.

However, this game becomes Serious Business for the convicts, who are seeing this as an opportunity to get back at the guards for all the abuse they've been getting over the years. With a former Heisman trophy winner (played by Reynolds in the remake) as the team's coach and a connection for sports equipment from the outside (played by Chris Rock in the remake), the "Mean Machine", as they come to be called, end up making a game out of it.

There is a British remake called Mean Machine, starring Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham in which they play the other type of football. It's notable in that it's one of Statham's few non-action roles and one where he plays an outright lunatic rather than his usual strong and silent characters.

The remake contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Rob Schneider plays one of the good behavior inmates allowed to watch the game from the stands. He cheers on the team at one point by saying "You can do it!" like his character in The Waterboy. Which was another movie where Adam Sandler played a football player, oddly enough.
    • One of the inmates is played by Bill Goldberg. Before Goldberg was a pro wrestler, he played football in the NFL for a few years.
    • Likewise, NFL star-turned-actor Terry Crews plays another convict.
    • Professional wrestler The Great Khali uses there one of his signature moves in wrestling, the big boot.
    • We have another former football player in "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, whose character takes a HARD clothesline during the final game, which was just another day at the office in his previous line of work. note 
    • For the other kind of football, there's Vinnie Jones in Mean Machine.
    • Kickboxer Bob Sapp plays a convict who cries ridiculously after getting his nose broken. In real life, Sapp got his orbital bone brutally broken in one of his first matches and became an infamous meme by collapsing in pain while looking about to cry.
    • This isn't the first time James Cromwell has played a prison warden (though the one from the previous film was much kinder and fairer).
  • Adaptation Name Change: Knauer's first name is Wilhelm in '74 film and is renamed Brian in the '05 remake.
  • Anyone Can Die: Caretaker.
  • Artistic License – Sports: The play at the end of the first half which starts with several seconds left on the clock. The announcers and players treat it as though the touchdown must be scored before the clock goes to triple zeroes. In real life, all that is required is for the play to begin before 0:00
  • Award-Bait Song: "Fly Away" by Nelly at the end credits.
  • Berserk Button: Based on his reactions to Crewe's and Cherryhead's interruptions, you do NOT want to get between "Five Star Torres" and his Joy Behar.
    • Racial slurs seem to be this for Switowski since he nearly takes Dunham's head off with a clothesline when Megget tells him that Dunham had called him a "nigger".
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Normally, Switowski's as nice as they come, especially when compared to the other convicts on his team. However, when he gets mad, he'll break your damn neck.
  • Big Eater: Has hints of this. The DVD features state that most of the actors were this way as well.
  • Blackmail:
    • In the end, to make sure the guards win, the warden attempts to blackmail Crewe by threatening to pin Crewe as an accomplice to Caretaker's murder.
    • Apparently, this was also the reason for the point-shaving in Crewe's backstory, as he was "in a bad way with some worse people," apparently involving gambling debts. When confiding in his team that he did indeed throw the game when he was in the NFL, Crewe claims that they were prepared to kill him, and he wishes that he'd let them. Apparently, they meant business. And likely would kill him if Crewe tells anyone about this even after five years.
  • Bowdlerize: The TV version of the Bring My Brown Pants moment is replaced with “I think he broke his freakin’ neck”, but keeps the “diaper” jab.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In the remake, Switowski lays out the Guard's running back, Dunham, with a clothesline tackle so epic it makes him shit himself.
  • Buffy Speak: When asked by guards to report on the inmate team's progress, all Unger has to say about the speedy Meggett is "He's fast... he's so fast, he makes fast people look... not fast..."
  • Busman's Vocabulary: Cheeseburger Eddy in the remake. "Hey, man, you're acting like a real McAsshole!"
  • Camp Gay: Patrick, who loved Charlie's underwear commercials and thinks he's in love after the car chase scene at the beginning of the film.
    • To say nothing of the (ahem) "Girls" in the 2005 film.
  • The Cameo:
    • Jim Rome and Chris Berman work the broadcast of the game.
    • Also a couple of sportswriters, including Peter King
  • Chase Scene: Crewe goes back to prison for leading the police on a high-speed chase in a car he stole from his girlfriend with whom he had a falling out. He ends the chase by slamming on the brakes, causing every car chasing him to slam into the car, destroying it.
    Crewe: [in remake, on TV after wrecking his girlfriend's car] Hey, Lena! I think we should start seeing other people! [drunken laughter]
  • Chekhov's Skill: More like Chekhov's Lack of Skill. Brucie is shown early on to not have any skill kicking. This actually comes in handy during the big game when they need an onside kick.
  • Cool Old Guy: Nate Scarborough and Skitchy. Of the latter, Scarborough claims "He's been here so long, he knows where everything is." The reason he was in there for so long? He punched a guard who ended up becoming the warden. Twenty extra years for one punch, and to him, it was worth every goddamn minute.
  • Composite Character: A few of the inmates in the remake are amalgamations of inmates from the original. Switowski, for instance, is a combination of Sonny and Samson
  • Crippling the Competition: The warden orders Crewe give the guards a 14-point advantage or he will frame him for involvement in a murder. Crewe agrees provided the warden will have the guards not injure the prisoners. The warden agrees, then double crosses Crewe by later telling the head of the guards once they have a 21-point advantage to "inflict as much physical punishment on the prisoners as humanly possible."
  • Crisis Makes Perfect: In the beginning of the film, Brucie attempts to make a field goal during practice, claiming that he was an all-state kicker. He fails miserably, and the ball gets no height, skidding across the dirt. At the end of the game, when the Mean Machine need the ball back, his inability to kick properly makes him a great onside kicker.
  • Dark Is Evil/Dark Is Not Evil: Both tropes are played straight during the big game at the climax of the film. To the viewer, it's obvious that Crewe and his team are the good guys, and the guards are pretty much 100% evil pieces of shit. Dark Is Not Evil (or Light Is Not Good) is played straight in this instance, as the convicts' uniforms are black, while the guards wear white.

    However, In-Universe, when both teams take the field, the crowd watching the game gives the guards' team a standing ovation and boos the convicts. Thus, from their perspective, Dark Is Evil (or Light Is Good) is being played straight.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: When they march onto the football field for the game, all the convicts (bar Paul and Nate) stop the march to chat up the cheerleaders for the guards team (before being warded off at gunpoint by other guards providing security for the event). Justified as they have been in jail for God knows how long and haven't seen a woman (as in an actual woman rather than crossdressing effeminate men) in ages (apart from maybe the warden's elderly secretary), let alone a group of attractive, scantily-clad women like the cheerleaders.
  • The Dreaded: Connie Shokner in the original. Even the guards are afraid of him.
  • Drench Celebration: Two of the convicts celebrate their victory by giving one of these to the warden, who immediately assigns them a week in the "hot box."
  • Dumb Muscle: Sonny Tanner in the original, and Switowski in the remake
  • Even the Guys Want Him: At the start of the remake, when the news showed Crewe getting arrested for causing a wreck with his girlfriend Lena's car, her guy friend says "I think I'm in love".
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Cheeseburger Eddy and Caretaker. Cheeseburger Eddy's Mean Machine uniform literally has "Cheeseburger Eddy" on the back, but Caretaker's mugshot reads "Farrell, AKA Caretaker." Nate Scarborough's jersey also reads "Coach" on the back.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The spectators and commentators are appalled by the flagrant and uncalled fouls the guards inflict on the inmates.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: The remake is set in Texas, because, as the warden puts it, Texans take two things very seriously: prison and football.
  • Expy: Switowski is clearly one of John Coffey from The Green Mile in that both are enormous, muscular but kind hearted manchildren.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Crewe invokes this trope at halftime, when the warden threatens to frame Crewe for conspiracy to murder Caretaker. His ultimatum— receive an additional 25 years on his sentence, or throw the game. Crewe reluctantly chooses the latter. To start the 3rd quarter, he throws several bad passes, and one inexplicably poor toss to his running back. His teammates realize what's happening and verbally berate him on the bench as the guards begin to dominate the game.
  • Foreshadowing: Deacon's warning that "You know MVP (Crewe) sold his own teammates out... what do you think he's gonna do to you fools?"
  • Gag Penis: Battle in the remake. Battle jokes he could probably kill a guy by hitting him over the head with that "hammer," and his specially ordered jockstrap is the subject of a memorable visual gag.
    Deacon: I still don't think that's big enough!
  • Gentle Giant: Switowski is generally a big teddy bear when not playing football. The only time he intentionally hurts someone is when he clotheslines Dunham during the big game. He absolutely deserved it, though.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In the remake, at least. When Caretaker sets off the radio bomb meant for Crewe, the scene cuts to outside the cell, where we see the explosion.
  • Graceful Loser: At the end of the movie, after the guards lose the game, Capt. Knauer congratulates Crew on a game well played, and will tell the investigators that, despite the warden's threats, he had nothing to do with Caretaker's murder..
  • Groin Attack: In the original Crewe nails the guards' main hatchet-man in the groin on two consecutive plays to take him out of the game. Crewe nails a biased referee in the groin in the remake (on two consecutive plays) to get him to call the game fairly.
  • Guy on Guy Is Hot: The prisoners burst into cheers watching camera footage of Brucie getting intimate with one of the effeminate male prisoners.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Crewe himself, formerly playing this game only so the warden won't pin more hard time on him, eventually develops a relationship with the team that becomes so strong that, in the end, he refuses to abandon them, even after they intentionally let the guards kick his ass (see Redemption Equals Affliction below).
    • In the remake Englehart, one of the guards, gradually has one after the cons secretly switch his steroids with estrogen tablets. While he still plays for the guards' team, he bears no ill will towards the inmates and even joins the "girls" in cheering at one point.
    • At the end of the game, Captain Knauer acknowledges Paul Crewe's intestinal fortitude for not throwing the game (and winning, on top of that) in the face of extreme adversity. He and Crewe shake hands as Knauer agrees to make sure Caretaker's murder is not pinned on Crewe.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Only one black player (other than Switowski) agrees to play in the game at the start (near the middle) of the film. The guards see this one player (Earl Meggett, played by rapper Nelly) as a major threat and taunt him with racist comments and other bullying while he cleans up in the library, hoping he will strike a guard and not be able to play. However, upon witnessing the guards going so far as to call Meggett (and Malcolm X) a nigger, Cheeseburger Eddy and Deacon Moss decide to join Meggett in the name of revenge, thus giving Crewe a much better chance of winning than he'd had with just Meggett.
    • Another player ("Five-Star" Torres, one of the meanest, if not the meanest inmate in Allenville) joins after a guard screws him out of the last 15 minutes of his TV time, while another (the 7'1" tall Turley) recalls guard Papajohn taunting him, and agrees to play when he learns that Papajohn will be on the guards' team.
    • When Paul Crewe asks Warden Hazen to keep Unger away from the inmates' practices (as he's been leaking information to the guards), the warden responds by flooding the cons' field in an attempt to get them to cancel practice only days before the big game. Instead, the cons decide to have a little fun, and practice some "schoolyard bullshit" as it was phrased. The non-traditional plays that they worked on while the field was flooded actually came into play during the big game. With seconds to go in the half, the Mean Machine makes use of numerous laterals and pitches in order to score the tying touchdown, just as they did during the practice session on the flooded field.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • In the remake, Crewe challenges inmate Deacon Moss (former NFL receiver Michael Irvin) to a basketball game. If Crewe wins, Deacon joins the football team. If Deacon wins, Crewe walks away and doesn't bother him or his friends about playing in the big game. During the game, Moss commits numerous fouls that would get you thrown out of the game at any level of organized basketball, but Crewe never calls for the violation on any of Deacon's cheap shots. Cheeseburger Eddy even steps on the court to swat away an easy layup by Crewe, despite the fact that he's not even in the game. Crewe still refuses to acknowledge the outright cheating on Moss' part.

      Finally, on the "Next point wins" possession with the ball in Moss' hands, Crewe strips him 100% cleanly and Deacon calls a foul. Crewe relinquishes the ball despite the horribly fallacious call, and Moss ends the game with an emphatic slam dunk— Crewe doesn't bother to even play defense at that point, knowing that winning is all but impossible.
    • In this case, it works. Since Crewe took the beating and just kept coming (all while refusing to argue or complain about the unfairness), Earl Meggett joined Crewe's team, wanting to see what he could do in a contact sport.
    • Crewe's loss went even further in working out for him later in the film. After the guards find out that Meggett has joined the team, they attempt to provoke him into a physical altercation, using racial slurs and verbal taunting as he cleans the library. Deacon Moss and Cheeseburger Eddy witness the entire incident, and this convinces them (as well as the other inmates in "The Jungle," as Deacon called it) to join the team (see Hoist by His Own Petard above).
  • Jail Bake: In the remake Caretaker receives Meggett's spikes (and implicitly all of the other items he procures for other inmates) in this manner.
  • Jerkass: Lena, Paul's Control Freak girlfriend in the remake.
    • Also from the remake is Guard Dunham. While all the guards are shown to be complete jerks to the inmates, Dunham is a racist bigot who mocks Meggett with the n-word knowing he can't fight back. This makes it very satisfying to see him get clotheslined by Switowski in the big game.
  • Karma Houdini: Unger in the original. In the remake, not only does he get charged for the murder of Caretaker, but it is implied that all of the players (especially Switowski) will deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to him once they learn where he's being hidden.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: The main character is referred to by the nicknames "Paul 'Wrecking' Crewe" and "Paul 'Motley' Crewe" by Warden Hazen and Chris Berman respectively.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: According to Caretaker, three attempts at using the electric chair to execute inmate Turley (played by wrestler Dalip Singh Rana, AKA "The Great Khali") were all failures.
  • The Mole:
    • Unger, an inmate, serves as this, leaking information about Crewe's training and recruiting to the guards, and eventually planting a small-time bomb (intended for Crewe) that ends up killing Caretaker.
    • Although it appears the inmates are all well aware that he's doing this (except for the bomb part). Crewe even requests that the warden keep Unger off the cons' practice field. It doesn't go well.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Crewe plays this trope straight twice in a short period of time. During the climax of the film, at halftime of the big game, Crewe is ordered to throw the game and let the guards win, or be framed for Caretaker's murder, and he reluctantly agrees to the former. He eventually feigns an injury and simply refuses to play.

    Seeing a chance to return the favor for the punishment they've been taking throughout the game, the guards essentially bully the cons' team, who can't even get a successful play off. They lay several painful hits on a number of the inmates, severely injuring at least three of them.

    At that point, Crewe appears to have the "What have I done?" moment, and gears up to get back in the game and bring his team back.

    He also explains in the huddle, during a timeout, that he felt the same type of emotional turmoil after throwing the game in the NFL some years ago. Crewe, in fact, feels so guilty that he makes borderline suicidal sacrifices for his team after his return to the game (see Redemption Equals Affliction below).
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When the guards learn that the best offensive player on Crewe's team is Megget, they try to provoke him into attacking them by using racial slurs and thus be unable to play. When Megget doesn't budge, the other black inmates, who are speedy and athletic, especially Deacon Moss, join the team.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Brucie's wildly varying explanations for the video catching him in the act with one of the girls.
  • Oh, Crap!: Papajohn, when Turley agrees to play if it means roughing him up.
  • The Old Convict: Pop. Skitchy and Unger in the remake.
  • Only in Florida: While the remake is set in Texas, the original is set in Florida.
  • Playing Against Type: In real life, Steve Austin is very outspoken against racism. In the movie, he plays a racist white prison guard who harasses black inmates.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The remake has Brucie, an angry little man who can't play very well. His lack of playing talent, however, helps the Mean Machine get the ball back after one of his lousy kicks was tipped by a guard and became a live ball. The Cons recovered and that set up the final drive of the game.
  • Police Brutality: The guards like to beat up on the inmates.
  • Race Lift: Caretaker is white in the original and black in the remake.
  • Rated M for Manly: Football, a prison at Texas, soundtrack composed mostly of hip hop and hard rock, professional wrestlers among the cast and characters scattered across the Noble Male, Roguish Male spectrum. This is a comedy film that manages to be manly without falling into Testosterone Poisoning!
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Torres, one of the inmates in the remake, loves watching The View. Not that he's a fan of the show itself necessarily— he just thinks Joy Behar is absolutely hilarious.
  • Redemption Equals Affliction: After Crewe sincerely has a change of heart about throwing the game at the end of the film, but the rest of his team isn't too thrilled to have him back on the field. On 2nd down and long, his offensive line decides to send him a message and refuses to block for him, and does the same on 3rd down, resulting in Crewe taking two (painful) sacks in a row. He realizes that not only will they never win like this, but he has to prove to the team that he honestly is on their side.

    On 4th and 22, Crewe utilizes a QB draw and manages to beat the entire guards' team single-handedly to pick up a first down (without his helmet, no less). He takes a hard hit after gaining around 25 yards, when he could have easily let the team punt the ball away, and his redemption is earned.
  • Remake Cameo:
    • Burt Reynolds, who starred in the original, as Nate Scarborough in the remake— an unusually large part for this trope. He even wears #22, the same jersey number he wore in the original.
    • Ed Lauter, who played the original Captain Knauer, has a cameo as Warden Hazen's golfing buddy who's proud that his wife once had a fling with Crewe.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The Mean Machine ends up with a 14 point deficit before a minute passes in the game because they're more focused on injuring the guards they hate than playing the game. Once Crewe chews them out for it, the cons settle down and start playing seriously.
  • Scary Black Man: Half the team but is Subverted in the remake by Switowski (Bob Sapp) who's more of a Gentle Giant/Manchild...until he isn't.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: In the credits, there are various brief, underwater Male Gaze shots of a bikini-clad Fanservice Extra swimming in a pool, with the camera zooming in on her butt as she climbs out of the pool.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: After winning the game, two of the inmates dump a cooler full of Gatorade on Warden Hazen's head to celebrate. He threatens them both with a week in "The hotbox". Their response? "Who gives a shit?!"
  • The Silent Bob: Joining Chris Berman in covering the game is inmate Babyface Bob, who doesn't talk very much during the broadcast. When he does talk, it's because he's getting into the game.
  • Situational Sexuality:
    • Brucie in the remake, who actually has a wife on the outside, is at one point caught on camera getting intimate with one of the "girls."
      Brucie: [as he's about to kick off towards the end of the game] Jesus Christ, my savior... if you help me out with this one, I promise to stop cheating on my wife with black guys. Amen.
    • There's also this exchange in the remake when Caretaker first meets Paul:
      Paul: What about the love of a beautiful woman?
      Caretaker: Well, you're gonna have to lower your standards on the "beautiful" part, and on the "woman" part. [points to the "girls" table (all effeminate male inmates, one of whom smiles, waves lovingly and says "Heeeeey.")]
      Paul: Let's just stick with the cheeseburgers.
      Caretaker: Oh, they ugly now, but in eight months, she gonna look like Beyonce.
      Paul: No, thanks.
  • Sore Loser: At the end of the game, Crewe jogs to where the civilian population is walking out of the stadium, and Hazen orders a guard to shoot him as he's an escaping convict. When the guard says he can't open fire because he might hit a bystander, he gives the rifle to Knauer and orders him to put Crewe down. Crewe then jogs back with the game ball and mockingly hands it to Hazen, and when Deacon and Battle pour Gatorade on Hazen, he sentences them to the hot-box.
  • Squash Match: A discussed non-wrestling example, even if a part of the cast of the remake consisted of wrestling superstars. When the warden threatens to extend Paul's sentence if he doesn't offer any advice as to how his guards can win their league's championship, Paul recommends a "tune up" game. Paul explains to the warden that his top tiered university's football team would start their season by playing against a bottom of the rung team, and "kick the living shit out of them" as a way to boost the team's spirit. Which is when the warden gets the idea that Paul would coach the inmates' team for the guards' "tune up" game. At the end, it is Averted, since Paul decides risking a longer sentence by rallying the inmates and giving the guards a painful defeat by a team that was supposed to be pathetically weak.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Unger, who spies on the inmates and reports their strategies and training methods to the guards.
  • Throwing the Fight: In Crewe's backstory, he was banned from football for point shaving, which he did to cover gambling debts. The warden tries to get him to throw the big game by hanging Caretaker's murder over him. Crewe decides not to go through with it after a talk with Skitchy — see Was It Really Worth It? below.
  • Unnecessary Roughness:
    • Oh yeah. Justified in this case, as most of the inmates are playing just to get back at the guards. They end up wasting their first offensive series by hurting their least favorite guards instead of running the plays as called.
    • The guards' team gets rough, too, due to being ordered by the warden to beat the inmates into submission after they've acquired a 3 TD lead.
  • Wardens Are Evil: The warden and the prison guards are all seemingly corrupt and have bad attitudes towards the prisioners, with many exhibiting racisms as well as being eager to indulge in Police Brutality.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Pop in the original, and Skitchy in the remake, ended up having 20 years added to his sentence for punching a guard who ended up becoming the warden. When asked this question, Pop/Skitchy's response is, "It was worth every goddamn minute."
  • Who Needs Overtime?: At the end of the game, the Convicts chose to go for two points and the win instead of just kicking the extra point to send the game into overtime. As they put it, "We're convicts. We always go for it all."
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: Remake's Battle is number 10 for Mean Machine. His number is represented as the Roman numeral X.