Adam Sandler shows how tough his nut is in this remake of Robert Aldrich's 1974 comedy drama as the jailed quarterback ordered to lead a ragtag team of inmates in a match practice against slippery warden James Cromwell's brutal prison officers. Chris Rock provides wise-cracking support, rap star Nelly makes a solid movie debut, and original star Burt Reynolds returns to play the cons' vengeful coach. As Sandler fans will expect, it'll hurt them more than it hurts you.
Disgraced football quarterback Paul "Wrecking" Crewe (Sandler) finds himself jailed for three years after he drunkenly totals his rich girlfriend's Bentley.
Unpopular with the warders who resent his "superstar" status, he is also reviled by his fellow cons after the match-fixing episode which effectively ended his career.
The only inmate to cut him any slack is prison fixer Caretaker (Rock)...but Crewe's essentially on his own, determined to serve his time and get out.
However, he doesn't reckon on James Cromwell's villainous chief warden, who orders Crew to put together a team of lags to provide match fodder for his elite guards' team.
Helped by the resourceful Caretaker, Crewe's crew are slowly recruited from around the prison and include rap star Nelly as a lightning fast running back.
As match day approaches, it becomes obvious that con's team - the Mean Machine - are going to live up to their name - a situation Cromwell can't allow to continue.
The movie - which attempts no radical reinterpretation of the original - rolls happily along...albeit on a well-worn road paved with sports hero cliches and gridiron stereotypes. Untaxing fun nevertheless.
Director Peter Segal may have made the competent comedies 50 First Dates and Anger Management... but he's no Robert Aldrich, who made the thirty-year-old original.
Unfortunately, only Burt Reynolds survives from that outing and he appears here in the role of coach Nate Scarborough.
Sandler, whose laconic slacker-style has slumped in a one-dimensional goofball, is capable of lapses of good taste (Punch-Drunk Love) but isn't called upon to do much except look put-upon.
In other words, it's non-taxing in a manner that would make Gordon Brown squirm.