Sound familiar? It bleeding ought to. This is the second remake of the corking Burt Reynolds' 1974 prison-sports movie in the last five years.
With 2001's Mean Machine, Vinnie Jones committed a professional foul, dumbly relocating the action to a British prison and switching the sport to football. Not so Sandler's title challenge, a bright, breezy xerox with just enough spin to keep things fresh. If Mean Machine was the Lock, Stock... remake, this is the Con Air version, rammed to the touchlines with amber-filtered heat haze, hard-thumping MOR rock and gloriously cheesy slo-mo hero shots.
Sandler in tough guy Happy Gilmore mode (books-dumb, street-smart wiseass) is a sight to cherish, the mumbly man-child giving his best mainstream turn since The Wedding Singer. The actor sweats enough blue-collar charisma to sell even the most cheddar-laden inspirational speech to the cheap seats. Good job, too: no one else is doing anything you haven't seen before, filling a character call-sheet of prison clichés from fat Italian mobsters to primped and pimped ladyboys.
But so what if Cromwell's warden is LA Confidential's Dudley Smith in a different suit? Or that Chris Rock's sassy cellblock fixer Caretaker is nowhere near as original as his Oscar Night material? Or even that original Paul Crewe, Burt Reynolds, is hardly cutting new thespic paths as he steps down to play grizzled old coach Nate? The whole point of a greatest hits collection is to get your toes tapping... and this does exactly that.
It also delivers on the action, the final game getting those temples throbbing as players crunch, pound, duck and weave. Director Peter Segal may score a big, fat zero on the surprise-o-meter but he sure knows how to thump all the right adreno buttons.
A slick-and-span sports remake crowd-pleaser with enough touchdown moments to make up for its rare fumbles. Game on!