Uncle Drew: Movie Review
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If you are a devoted fan of basketball you will absolutely love the new movie Uncle Drew. But if you’re not, well … you might spend more time out at the concession stand replenishing your snacks than actually watching this new release from Summit Entertainment.
Boston Celtics superstar Kyrie Irving leads a literal cavalcade of former NBA stars that includes Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller, Chris Webber, Nate Robinson, and the WNBA’s Lisa Leslie on this cinematic romp set on the playgrounds of New York City. Directed by Charles Stone III (Drumline), Uncle Drew also features comedic actors Lil Rel Howery (The Carmichael Show), Nick Kroll (The House), and J.B. Smoove (Date Night).
THE MOVIE IN A MINUTE
Dax (Howery) is a down on his luck Foot Locker employee who in the span of 24 hours, has lost his job, his girlfriend, and his dream of coaching a team in Harlem’s legendary Rucker Classic street basketball tournament. To make matters worse, the players he planned to enter in the competition as his team defect to the squad of his longtime nemesis (Kroll). On the verge of giving up, Dax runs into playground basketball legend Uncle Drew (Irving), who still has some game left in his high top sneakers. The elder hoopsman agrees to help him but only if he can round up his old squad to compete in the tournament. Desperate to be in the competition, Dax agrees. The unlikely duo then head out on a road trip to find these former legends of the asphalt, an elderly ragtag bunch of colorful characters comprised of Big Fella (O’Neal), Preacher (Webber), Lights (Miller), Boots (Nate Robinson), and Betty Lou (Leslie). Together, this group of senior citizens proves that you don’t need to be great all the time, just one time.
THE GOOD AND BAD OF UNCLE DREW
It’s hard to form a true opinion on Uncle Drew as its origin derives from a series of highly successful Pepsi advertising campaign videos. While these video shorts were quite effective on television it is hard to sustain interest on the big screen for nearly two hours.
Funny and clever at times, the movie struggles to find balance between being a true comedy and basketball highlight reel. The end result is a stilted formulaic script that doesn’t always land with audiences.
Buried beneath layer upon layer of prosthetic makeup and a steely haired wig, Irving demonstrates that he might actually have a post-basketball career in acting. He seems to have a natural camera presence in the scenes where he is not actually playing basketball.
For his part, Webber nearly steals the movie with his comedic approach to playing an over-enthusiastic preacher who is just as comfortable in the baptismal pool as he is making baskets.
Despite its struggles with being too formulaic, Uncle Drew does deliver positive messages about teamwork, the bond of friendship, and playing for each other, not a paycheck.
However, the movie certainly has its fair share of pitfalls. Filled with crass humor, innuendo, and a decent amount of off-color language, viewers are also treated (said sarcastically) to a glimpse of O’Neil’s derriere. People of faith will also be disappointed with the movie’s casual view toward pre-marital sex and a nightclub dance scene that briefly wanders into risqué territory.
IN THE END
Highly predictable, Uncle Drew plays out like a love letter to the game of basketball. And while it has its fair share of fun and frivolity, this movie proves why basketball is giving football a run for its money as America’s sport. However, I just wish the jokes weren’t so corny and the crassness could be cleaned up.
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