By Darlene Donloe
Annoyingly, the trailer for a movie can frequently end up being the only good, funny, engaging and interesting moments in a film.
That’s not the case with Uncle Drew the latest comedy from Lionsgate, opening nationwide today.
This basketball film about a group of 70-something one-time great high school and college ballers coming together to win the coveted and legendary Ruckers Basketball tournament is uproarious from beginning to end.
The story centers around Dax (hilariously played by Lil Rel Howery), who has spent his life savings to enter his basketball team in the tournament, only to be disappointed when his rival, played by the funny Nick Kroll, convinces Dax’s team to play for him instead.
With no money and no girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish), who dumps him after he loses his team, Dax decides to put together another squad. While watching some players on a city court get schooled by an old-timer (NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving), Dax convinces the rather mature baller to play for the revered Rucker Basketball tournament. By the way, the old-timer turns out to be none other than Uncle Drew someone Dax thought was a myth.
|Kyrie Irving plays Uncle Drew|
Once he gets Uncle Drew on board, Dax and Uncle Drew embark on a road trip to round up Drew’s old basketball crew – who are all just as old as he is, but who all still have some significant skills. The crew includes Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Nate Robinson III, Lisa Leslie and Reggie Miller.
For those who don’t know, for five years, Uncle Drew was a popular digital episodic series, originally conceived by Pepsi.
In the series – it turns out Uncle Drew was an old legend being played by a vibrant, young legend. Under that layer of clever prosthetic makeup was NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving. Uncle Drew’s YouTube videos have been viewed more than 100 million times. After four webisodes, fans wanted to see and know more. The excitement swelled so much it convinced a group of filmmakers and some NBA legends to take the webisode to the next level.
The result is the feature film, which has already garnered rave reviews.
The laughs are plenty, but the film does have a message. It’s about perseverance, dedication, faith, anti-ageism and more.
One might think that the acting would be lacking, considering it’s being performed by professional athletes and not professional actors.
The acting is actually pretty good with the athletes displaying solid comedic timing and even-handed dramatic turns.
Howery delivers, as does Kroll. Tiffany Haddish and Erica Ash bring the funny. Irving, O’Neal, Webber, Miller, Robinson, and Leslie – all have solid performances. Irving is not a bad actor. In fact, none of the NBA legends stink of the screen. O’Neal, who loves to show off his moves, displays some decent breakdancing and even gives us a glimpse of his bare ass in a hospital gown.
|Nate Robinson III stars as Boots in Uncle Drew|
A nice surprise is Robinson, who displays some pretty fine acting chops. Playing a man who is wheelchair bound and hasn’t spoken or smiled in years, Robinson manages to say so much even though he literally has about two lines. Remarkably, his eyes say it all.
The soundtrack to Uncle Drew is bumpin. Oscillating from old school to today’s hits, it has such a pivotal role in moving the story forward, that it’s actually like another character.
Uncle Drew doesn’t try to be any more than what it is. It’s predictable, but it still has some heart and charm. We know the old-timers are actually NBA and WNBA legends. We know they are behind makeup that took three house to perfect.
We also know that this basketball comedy is just pure good fun for young and old.
Be sure to sit through the end credits!
Uncle Drew, directed by Charles Stone III and written by Jay Longino, stars Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, Lisa Leslie, Erica Ash, Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, Aaron Gordon, Mike Epps, JB Smoove, Wesley Witherspoon.
There are cameos of John Calipari, Sal Masakela, Joe Hammond, Scoop Jackson, Pee Wee Kirkland, Earl Monroe, Chris Mullin, Bill Walton. George Gervin, Steve Nash, David Robinson, Jerry West, Rick Barry, Dikembe Mutombo and Nene Leakes.
Uncle Drew is presented by Summit Entertainment and is a Temple Hill production, in association with Pepsi Productions.
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Uncle Drew gets an O (oh, yeah).
RATING: PG-13 for suggestive material, language and brief nudity; Running time: 103 minutes.