Skip to main content

Prison Football Double Feature: Gridiron Gang and The Longest Yard

Often, when I pick out what movies Netflix is going to send me, I like to set myself for a double feature. I pick out two movies that are somehow linked (at least in my mind) whether it be thematic, subject matter, genre, or even by actor. (In college, we used to arrange movie nights like this, except we'd pick out four movies and sometimes a food...for example, Tim Curry night--three Tim Curry movies...and curry.) This past weekend, the unifying factor was pretty specific: prison football.

The first one I watched was Gridiron Gang starring The Rock and Xibit. I know that doesn't sound particularly promising, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It's a story of a man (The Rock, of course) who arranges a football team in a juvenile detention center, and how being on that team effects the lives of those who participate. It's pretty much your standard sport film--there are montages, there are wins and losses, there's some pretty blatant heart-string-plucking, and everyone Learns A Valuable Lesson. The acting was not going to win any Oscars, but it was acceptable, and no one seemed especially out of his or her depth. Some of the dialogue was kind of cheesy, but that's a fault of many films in the sports genre. Plus, as I discovered as the credits rolled, much of the script was taken verbatim from the mouths of the people the movie is based on--there's clips from the documentary about this team, and some of the things they're saying are line by line what's in the movie. I'd actually be interested in seeing the original documentary, since I'll bet it's fascinating, unfortunately Netflix doesn't seem to have it. All in all, I wouldn't go overboard to recommend this movie, but if you like sports movies, it's not bad.

The second movie was the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard. I wasn't really too excited about this one, since I'm kind of torn about Adam Sandler. I'm very fond of him in some things, but he often just plays Adam Sandler...and Adam Sandler is kind of annoying. However, when he's actually making an attempt to play a character, he is at the very least competant. Also, remakes are kind of tough, particularly remakes of movies as iconic as the original Longest Yard. Luckily, it seems they avoided some of the pitfalls that can make these movies disappointing, and the casting was great, maybe even inspired. The premise is that a former pro-quarterback (Sandler) goes to prison, where the sadistic warden coinvinces him to draft a con team to play against the semi-pro guard team. Sandler obviously played the Burt Reynolds part, but Burt himself showed up to play the wise older con coach (the fact that Reynolds not only agreed but WANTED to be in this movie was definitely a good sign.) Chris Rock played Caretaker, Sandler's sidekick, and he was very funny. The cast was rounded out by a crew of former pro-football players and pro-wrestlers, all of whom seemed to be having an excellent time. I think perhaps that was one of the reason I enjoyed the movie so much--everyone in it seemed to be really enjoying themselves, and in my opinion that can often prop up an otherwise mediocre comedy. Another good thing was that they didn't mess around with the story. The dialogue was updated, and some tweaking was done with the characters, but in general there was no attempt to do anything but make a loving homage to the original. Also, if you get the DVD, make sure to check out the making-of featurettes. They're all really informative, and give an added perspective to the movie that is really interesting. In all, I'd recommend this to those who enjoy football movies or slap-sticky comedies.


Popular posts from this blog

CR3 #30: The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith

I saw the movie of The First Wives Club before I read the book. It's a cute chick flick, in which scorned women take comedic revenge on their former spouses. They become better friends and everyone winds up happy in the end. I was somewhat surprised (though not much--the differences between film and literature are often wide) at how different the book was--I am used to changes in plot or small character changes (combining two characters into one, or perhaps changing to a more pleasant ending) but the major change here between novel and movie was the tone.

The story is basically the same; After a close friend's suicide, three middle-aged female friends get together and beginning reviewing their lives. They realize that much like their late friend, they have been screwed over by the men in their lives--the men used them to get to their high social and financial positions, then screwed them over both personally and financially. The three women decide to use their wits and their co…

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CBR9 #5 Borgin Keep by Ron Ripley

I've read the entire Berkeley Street series, as well as the Haunted series, and I think this was definitely one of the better offerings. This time, former Marine Shane and his slowly growing band of willing (and unwilling) ghost hunting allies face their biggest challenge yet. While the ghosts of Borgin Keep are both very dangerous and very evil, Shane also must keep one step ahead of The Watchers, a ruthless and powerful organization who find him to be a threat to their shadowy goals.

As always, for me the best part are the characters. Shane and his ghost-hunting partner Frank (a former soldier/former monk) are joined once again by police detective Marie LaFontaine, who is a very tough woman determined to avenge a dead friend. I'm not as fond of Shane's girlfriend Courtney, but I understand her uses as far as character development.

The plot moves along quickly, and I found this book a little better fleshed out than a few of the previous ones in the series -- while I enjoye…