Review: Uncle Drew

Uncle Drew
5 10

PLOT: A down on his luck street ball coach attempts to recruit a legendary player; one who disappeared from the game decades ago.

REVIEW: The first time I became aware of UNCLE DREW was the unusual tie-in between the feature film and a car insurance commercial for The General. Not surprisingly, this scrappy sports comedy started off as a series of ads for Pepsi Max. And now, we have the big screen adventures of a legendary street ball player lovingly referred to as “Uncle Drew.” Directed by Charles Stone III, the film not only features a solid comedic cast including Lil Rel Howery, Nick Kroll and Tiffany Haddish, it also offers an impressive roster of real life athletes including Kyrie Irving (who plays the title character), Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson and Lisa Leslie. So let’s get this game on shall we?

uncle drew kyrie irving shaquille o'neal lil reb howery tiffany haddish charles stone iii chris webber

Lil Rel Howery is Dax, a well-intentioned basketball coach looking to bring his team to victory at the Rucker Classic street ball tournament. However, when his top player is recruited by Dax’ long time enemy Mookie (Nick Kroll), he must find a new group of players, or bow out in defeat. This leads Dax to a legendary player named Uncle Drew (Irving). Drew stubbornly agrees to play for Dax, but only if he can bring his old team back together. Soon, “Big Fella” (O’Neal), “Preacher” (Webber), “Lights” (Miller), “Boots” (Robinson) and “Betty Lou” (Leslie) join Drew and Dax to show all the young fellas how its done. You think they still got game?

When it comes to sports comedies, there is nothing necessarily new here. You will be fully aware of what you are going to get with UNCLE DREW by the trailers - or The General commercials. And frankly, that doesn’t do the film too many favors. In fact, the movie often feels a bit like you are waiting for the commercial break to end while you are watching something else. One of the biggest problems with the basketball comedy is that it feels like something you should be watching on YouTube, or maybe Crackle. It is a competently made film, but the make-up effects aren’t very effective - think a Saturday Nigh Live skit - and the story is recycled. Yet there are a few charms to this predictable fable.

uncle drew kyrie irving shaquille o'neal lil reb howery nick kroll tiffany haddish chris webber

The one thing this flick has going for it is the cast. I enjoyed getting to see Lil Rel Howery again after his scene-stealing work in GET OUT. It was great to see him headline a feature. And then you have Tiffany Haddish - while she is slightly wasted - who is absolutely charming here. Nick Kroll is hilarious as a sleazy villain, while both he and Howery share a couple of really funny moments. And then you have what is probably the highlight of the film, the players themselves. Kyrie Irving is surprisingly believable as the legendary player. While the comedy bits are hit and miss, when you get these guys on the court, it is a whole lot of fun to watch. Off court however, you’ll find a few laughs, but you will see most of the jokes coming a mile away.

UNCLE DREW - similarly to the recent Johnny Knoxville trip down memory lane ACTION POINT - borrows a lot from a number of 80’s and perhaps 90’s sports comedies that came before it. This is especially true when it comes to underdog type tales. This is that, in the most obvious way. At times the screenplay manages to get so dumb that you can’t help by be taken out. When we first meet the “old timers,” they are an absolute wreck. Yet how their magical basketball skills come to life would have made more sense in FIELD OF DREAMS. The ridiculous scene is much too far-fetched here, even in a movie that occasionally feels like a television prank show.

There is likely an audience for UNCLE DREW. If you are a fan of any of the legendary players, you will probably have some fun watching them “transform” into old-time street ball players. The humor isn’t terribly consistent and the drama of the situation never feels truthful. Even still, if you are looking for a few silly jokes while some of your favorite athletes get their yuks on in old age make-up, you’ll have a decent time. Is it worth spending the money going to the theatre? Well, probably not. This is the kind of flick that will be just as entertaining out of the privacy of your own home. It may feature some amazing sports talent, yet UNCLE DREW is far from a slam dunk.


Source: JoBlo.com



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