When dishonoured NFL quarterback Paul Crewe (Sandler) ends up in the clink, conniving Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) demands he knock the guards’ semi-pro team into shape. Crewe’s answer is to train a ragtag bunch of inmates to take them on.
What to make of Adam Sandler? Just when you start to appreciate him, he’s back catapaulting another noxiously sado-masochistic comedy straight at our worst impulses.
Which currently means remaking his favourite ’70s Burt Reynolds vehicle, best known in the UK as The Mean Machine, an exercise that’s less about invoking the decade’s glorious cinematic traditions than it is about heckling at critics with brewski-clinking, finger-flicking brashness.
Not that this means the film is any good. It really isn’t. Back in the 1970s, such triumphal nonsense was contained in the real world. The remake, in Sandler’s warped cartoon universe, is more freak show than macho with its procession of steroidal giants. It’s less a film than a series of skits exhumed from the Reynolds original, the man included, ex-SNL partners Sandler and Rock merely going through the motions.
Yet there is something perversely admirable about such disregard for political and artistic correctness.
Homophobia, sexism, racism, ageism and OJ-ism pound against genre clichés as weathered as Reynolds’ skin, bludgeoning you into submission.As you come to your senses, you may experience an unfamiliar craving for the works of Derek Jarman. It will pass.
The Cinematic equivalent of a happy-slapping by a pack of ASBOs.
Reviewed by Ian Nathan