An American football story set in a Texas prison, starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, William Fichter and ‘That Guy That Plays The Farmer In Babe’. That’s his real name, by the way. Thank you deed-poll! Sport isn’t my thing, but Adam and Chris amuse me and with Farmer Hoggart out there on the pitch somewhere, I’ve got all my favourite ideas of comedy in one convenient 2-hour slot. That’s what I call handy! Plus, who can pass up the opportunity to see a bunch of black guys running up and down a field? No. I’m not racist. No. I’m not a homosexual. Why on earth did you believe the first one, but not the second? I really don’t like you sometimes. You know that, right? Anyway, the film review. Let’s give it a go, shall we?
Well, I was surprised. Like I said, I’m not a sport person and to be honest, I never want to be. However, this film, this spectacle of a film, made me consider, for the briefest hints of what could have potentially have been almost moments, learning how to play American Football. Of course, I decided not to. My pain threshold is WAY too low for me to be effective at any particular role on a contact sport team. Besides, the effort would probably kill me and I sort of value my life, apparently, so self-preservation is my new game!
Pointless anecdote out-of-the-way, what actually happens?
Adam Sandler stars as Paul Crewe, a disgraced ex-football star who was banned from the sport for point shaving, lives with his angry rich girlfriend and received a 3 year prison sentence after stealing her car and joy-riding it whilst drunk, not to mention the vast amount of criminal damage he did to the police cars that slammed into him. In prison, despite being told persuaded not to by Captain Knauer (William Fichter), he agrees to help the warden (Farmer Hoggart) by setting up a prisoner football team to act as a tune up for the guards team (led by Knauer. He starts off with a team made up of those that wanted revenge on the guards, but were probably the worst suited to play football. He attempts to train them, with the help of Caretaker (Chris Rock) before Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds), an old college football star, decides to help them and become the Coach.
Together, Crewe, Caretaker and Coach find a ranking system which determines who likely the convicts are to get violent and recruit these into the defensive structure of the team. Realising that they have no offense, due to, as Caretaker puts it, a lack of ‘brothers’, they decide to try to get some from the basketball courts. There, Crewe plays a violent game of 1-on-1, which he loses, but due to his resilience, manages to recruit a fast runner, Megget. Noticing this, the guards try to get Megget put into solitary for assault, but they fail to provoke him to do it. As a result, some ‘brothers’ decide to join the team.
Noticing that the guards are playing dirty (flooding the field and trying to get Megget confined), they decide to act like the criminals they are, swapping anabolic steroids for oestrogen, checking the guards x-ray’s for broken bones and watching last years training video. To lower the convicts’ moral, the guards get a pyromaniac lackey of theirs (also a convict) to plant a bomb in Crewe’s room, which accidentally kills Caretaker.
On game day, the convicts adopt the name Mean Machine and wear the football uniforms that Caretaker got them. After a rough start, losing a touchdown and taking revenge instead of just playing, Crewe manages to convince the team to work as a unit and play properly. By half time, the teams are tied and the warden is angry, telling Crewe that if he doesn’t shave points, he will be tried for killing Caretaker. Crewe reluctantly agrees, heading onto the pitch and deliberately fumbling, before faking an injury to go off the field.
He eventually returns, realising that the team needs to win and works at convincing his team to keep on trying. Twice, the convicts let him get tackled, each time in a violent manner, before managing to get the first down with a lost helmet. He admits the original act whilst in the NFL Leagues and the act whilst playing with them today. As a result, they help him and the team work together to almost even the score with the guards, having a 1-point loss and a possible win with a 2-point conversion. They go for the win and despite faking arguing with Coach, Crewe manages to get the conversion, winning the game. Knauer tells Crewe that he will testify on Crewe’s side in a trial about Caretaker’s death, due to his new-found respect for him.
After the match, the warden verbally attacks the guard team leader before noticing that Crewe is heading towards the exit. He takes a gun from a nearby guard and hands it to Knauer, telling him to shoot. Knauer is reluctant, due to the number of people who could be hit and decides to wait, scoping up, then lowering the gun, shouting Crewe’s name and then scoping up one last time as Crewe bends over and picks up the game ball, running over to hand it to the warden. Knauer looks at the warden with disgust and walks off, before two of the convict players tip some ‘Gatorade’ over the warden.
Quite a simple film actually, but a nightmare to write out. Now, at this point of planning the review (which I rarely ever do), I was conversing with a good friend, Oscar, about a book he was going to buy (‘Why England Lose: And Other Curious Football Phenomena Explained’) which sparked a quick conversation about economist and German humour, which in turn prompted me to make the quick, one lined joke:
‘A German Economist walks into a bar and says, ‘Vat is this? Some kind ov joke?’
After deciding that it was mildly amusing, I wrote it down and requested the use of Oscar’s name. He refused, so, being part of the press, I ignored him. HUZZAH!
So, what do I think of the plot? Well, I thought that they put a lot of emphasis on the training. I assumed that we’d be witnessing multiple games between team after team until finally, we’d have the guards vs convict game. Instead, I got 10 minutes of set-up, an hour of training and half an hour of the match. Pretty excessive training, don’t ya think? Plus, they killed Chris Rock. They. Killed. Chris. Rock. Chris Rock! The guy that gave us ‘When can a white guy call a black guy ‘Nigger’?’, ‘Gun control? We need bullet control! I think every bullet should cost 5,000 dollars. Because if a bullet cost five thousand dollar, we wouldn’t have any innocent bystanders!’ and ‘Who’s judging American Idol? Paula Abdul? Paula Abdul judging a singing contest is like Christopher Reeve judging a dance contest!’ BASTARDS! FUCKING BASTARDS! THEY KILLED CHRIS ‘FUCKING’ ROCK AND THEY EXPECT ME TO BE HAPPY WITH THIS FILM? As you can see, it pissed me off.
So, characters. I found that Crewe was no-one was really that well-developed. In fact, I think that there were only two developed characters in the whole film. I can’t remember either of their names and one of them wasn’t even mentioned in the synopsis. Both characters had almost no lines and the most versed one, had subtitles. ‘Nuff said!
My prefered character probably the guard who they switched the steroids for. The actor must have spent ages getting the character right, switching from manly to feminine with ease. Plus, like my favourite character in most Sandler films, there was nipples involved. In the adapted, but relevant words of Ben Kenobi, ‘Just me, the guard, nipple rubbing and no questions asked!’.
I like the songs as well. I recognised a few and of course, they were great. Shocked to see Norman Greenbaum’s ‘Spirit in the Sky’ at one point, but it’s all good.
Since I can’t really think of anything else to talk about, I’m going to end it on a random point I’ve already mentioned… THEY KILLED CHRIS ROCK!
Always worth a watch or a listen. There is literally, a joke every few minutes and that’s how comedy should be.
PS. They DID kill Chris Rock remember!