Movie Review: Uncle Drew 6.5/10
Uncle Drew is a sports comedy written by Jay Longino and directed by Charles Stone III. The movie follows Foot Locker employee and streetball coach Dax, played by Lil' Rel Howery (Get Out, Insecure) and his team on their journey to win the Rucker Classic. The movie begins with a who's who of cameos in a faux 30 by 30 episode on streetball legend Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving). We are introduced to Dax's gold-digger girlfriend Jess (Tiffany Haddish), and his team The Harlem Money led by Casper (Aaron Gordon)
From this point, there's a rush to get Dax at rock bottom. His childhood rival Mookie (Nick Kroll) appears and everything is taken from Dax within a few scenes. Left with nothing, not even a team to play in the Rucker Classic, Dax is encouraged by his barbers (played by JB Smoove and Mike Epps) to recruit Uncle Drew and heads on a road trip to reunite the team. The music transitions us from the current day demographic to old-school cuts that have you bobbing your head as we are introduced to the now-geriatric players. Quickly stealing the scene, Preacher (Chris Webber), fills the movie with churchy comedic relief with the compliments of his protective wife Betty Lou (Lisa Leslie). The next two players, residing in a retirement home, are legally blind Lights (Reggie Miller) and wheelchair-bound Boots (Nate Robinson). It all seems hopeless from here but with a love interest in the picture now, Dax is motivated to impress Boots' granddaughter Maya (Erica Ash) and triumph at the Rucker Classic.
Aside from Dax's dilemma(s), the team is wary about convincing the last member, Big Fella (Shaquille O'Neal) to join them due to a past fight between him and Drew that lead to the team's disappearance. Big Fella, now a karate master, silently agrees to join the team but still refuses to speak to Drew. We're still kept on the this "This is hopeless" train but find laughs within a high speed chase, a game against high schoolers and a fun club scene. All leading to the Rucker Classic.
Kyrie Irving's heartwarming performance as Uncle Drew comes as a surprise. Once you get past his excessive use of "Youngblood", Irving's depiction of Drew comes off as that familiar old head that's been there, knows it all, and will school anyone that crosses his path. Irving has met many legends in his career and Uncle Drew is a refreshing mix of basketball legends and the archetype of older black patriarchs. Webber, Miller, Robinson, and O'Neal add their own spin on each of the characters that make the viewer love them individually with a Wizard of Oz type of affection. If you can get past the rushing of Dax's story, the gratuitous product placement, and the lack of shoe changes for my girl Maya, Uncle Drew is a knee-slapper where you can revel in its predictability thanks solely to the actors' dedication to the characters.
Uncle Drew is currently in theaters and the soundtrack is available on all streaming platforms. Listen to our version of Splash where we cast Lil Rel as sleazeball Freddie, originally played by the late John Candy.