The plot of "The Longest Yard" couldn't be much simpler: ex-pro quarterback goes to prison, is treated like a prisoner and leads a team of inmates out for revenge in a football game against the guards.
The original, which came out in 1974 and starred Burt Reynolds as former pro Paul Crewe, has pretty much the same plot as the remake. So what's a screenwriter to do? Updated cultural references? Check. Toned-down language to reach a wider audience? Check. Celeb cameos galore? Check.
In Reel Life: There's a huge party at the house of Paul Crewe
(Adam Sandler). Sandler's hiding out in his bedroom, watching
football. Then his girlfriend, Lena (Courteney Cox), demands he join
the party. They have an argument that ends when he locks her in a
large walk-in closet, from which she's released within a minute or so.
In Real Life: Here's a scene where remake screenwriter Sheldon Turner makes his dime. In the original version, Crewe also fights with his girlfriend (played by Anitra Ford) but he beats her up. As Reynolds says in his DVD commentary about the 1974 version, if Crewe did that in 2005, he'd never be able to get the audience back on his side. So the fight is softened up.
In Reel Life: Crewe then steals Lena's car, getting into a
chase with the San Diego police.
In Real Life: San Diego is a mysterious setting, since no other reference is made to the city the rest of the film, and since all of the action is filmed in New Mexico and Los Angeles.
In Reel Life: In the first segment of the chase, Crewe is
stopped by police, but escapes. He rams the police car hard, gets back
into the Bentley, and drives off. The squad car is crumpled. The
Bentley? Not a scratch.
In Real Life: Right.
In Reel Life: Crewe is sentenced to prison time for some
combination of crimes that include violating probation in "Allenville Federal Penitentiary" in Texas.
In Real Life: Look familiar? It's been a setting in "All the Pretty Horses," and also for one of the best swimming/crime films of all time, "Lockdown."
|Check out The Sports Guy's take on "The Longest Yard."|
The site also highlights the dazzling "Longest Yard" set itself, including the football fields with both dust and grass surfaces.
In Reel Life: Allenville, Texas, looks like a no-man's land, but
there is a desolate beauty to it.
In Real Life: Don't book your adventure travel plans too fast. There is no Allenville, Texas. Texas didn't ask to be part of this movie. (And it wasn't in the original, either.)
Iowa, Illinois, and New Mexico all bid to be the location of the prison scenes. New Mexico won out, a fact that so excited Gov. Bill Richardson that he called a press conference to announce it. The appeal of New Mexico for the filmmakers? A 15 percent rebate on state taxes and no fees.
Paramount spent about $4 million to make the prison into the "Longest Yard" set, adding, among other things, a new fašade, outbuildings, guard towers, some bleachers and two well-manicured gridirons.