Friday, June 29, 2018

The Ball Is In Uncle Drew's Basketball Court

L-R: Chris Webber as “Preacher,” Nate Robinson as “Boots,”
Lisa Leslie as “Betty Lou,” Shaquille O’Neal as “Big Fella,” Lil Rel Howery as “Dax,”
Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew, Reggie Miller as “Lights,” and Erica Ash as “Maya” in Uncle Drew.
Photo by Quantrell Colbert.

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. 

Time Out!

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.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Denzel Washington Is Back In The Equalizer 2

Denzel Washington returns to one of his signature roles in the first sequel of his career. His character, Robert McCall, serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed - but how far will he go when that is someone he loves? 


No Bones About It, 'Skeleton Crew' Is Meaty

L-R Amari Cheatom, Caroline Stefanie Clay, Kelly McCreary and DB Woodside

By Darlene Donloe

Detroit, affectionately known as the Motor City, rose and fell with the automobile industry, and, by association, so did its autoworkers. Things were great for the auto industry’s working class when the Big Three car companies (Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors) were at their peak.  But when the automotive industry crisis hit between 2008 and 2010, as part of a global financial downturn, it sent the lives of thousands of autoworkers that relied on the auto industry for their bread and butter, into a tailspin.

Dominique Morisseau

Dominque Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew takes a look at the lives of four similar workers in a production that is both poignant and relevant.

Set in a stamping plant in Detroit around the year 2008 (the Great Recession), Skeleton Crew takes us not only inside of the plant, but also inside the thinking of four workers whose futures rested on the auto industry, but now suddenly find themselves unsure about their financial future.

The four workers, all black, are Faye (Caroline Stefanie Clay), Dez (Amari Cheatom), Reggie (DB Woodside) and Shanita (Kelly McCreary).

L-R Caroline Stefanie Clay, DB Woodside, Kelly McCreary and Amari Cheatom

Faye is a no-nonsense 29-year veteran of the plant, who dispenses personal and professional advice – whether or not anyone wants any.  Dez is a 20-something, street savvy young man who has dreams of opening his own car shop.  Reggie is the 30-something plant foreman. He is torn between management and the workers.  He and Faye have a bit of history because his mother and Faye were apparently best friends.  Faye helped Reggie get his foreman job.  Shanita is a 20-something, pregnant woman who likes her job. She is a second-generation plant worker.

When rumors begin to swirl that the plant may close by year’s end, secrets, desire, frustrations, and anxiety starts to emerge. The play is about how each worker deals with the prospect of the plant impending closing.

Kelly McCreary, Caroline Stefanie Clay, and Amari Cheatom star in Skeleton Crew

Morisseau’s fresh approach to the human experience is invigorating. The fact that she gives each character the space to expand and rise while rapidly dispensing her witty dialogue, is what moves the play forward. No words are wasted. Each utterance has its own weight and intensity. The Detroit native’s characters are vivid and filled with personality, complexity, and emotion. Each character is strong enough to hold their own center stage.

The acting is superb and chock-full of realism and emotions. Even the most subtle gesture, movement or phrase propels a moment.

On the surface, Skeleton Crew could be considered just a play about four working-class individuals in a Detroit auto plant. But it’s about much more. It’s about family – and not just through the bloodline. It’s about having the back of co-workers who can, often times, be closer than one’s own family members. It’s about love, survival, hope, morality, despair, integrity, loyalty, faith, and trust.

Director Patricia McGregor

Patricia McGregor’s fluid direction is crisp, deliberate and intimate. Faye, Dez, Reggie and Shanita flow effortlessly throughout the stage – making for an authentic workplace experience.

This is Morisseau’s third and final installment of her trilogy ‘The Detroit Project.’  The play, which was developed in 2014 and had its world premiere in 2016, is so engaging it has, reportedly, become one of the Top 10 produced plays in the country for the 2017-18 season. After viewing this show, it’s easy to understand why.

Skeleton Crew, written by Dominique Morisseau, and directed by Patricia McGregor, stars Amari Cheatom, Caroline Stefanie Clay, Kelly McCreary and DB Woodside.

Skeleton Crew, through July 8, 2018; Geffen Playhouse, Gil Cates Theater, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024; For tickets and show times: or call the box office at 310.208.5454 (open daily, 7 a.m.- 6 p.m.).

Running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Skeleton Crew gets an E (excellent).

Sunday, June 24, 2018

18th Annual BET Awards Takes Place In Hollywood

Jamie Foxx

The 18th annual BET Awards were held in Los Angeles Sunday night. Hosted by Academy Award-winning actor and Grammy Award-winning musician Jamie Foxx, the annual ceremony recognizes Black artists, entertainers, and athletes. 

Tiffany Haddish and Chadwick Boseman won for Best Actress and Best Actor respectively while Black Panther was crowned with the Best Movie Award.

“The film is about our experience being African American and also being from Africa,” said director Ryan Coogler in his acceptance speech. “It was about tapping into that voice we always hear that tells us to be proud of who we are.”

The BET Awards gave some Sweet Love to R&B legend Anita Baker as she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, the ceremony shifted gears and went beyond awards for entertainment and honored individuals who have done amazing humanitarian acts because, let’s face it, these people deserve to be recognized.
The Humanitarian Heroes include, James Shaw Jr. the man who disarmed Waffle House shooter; Naomi Wadler, the memorable 11-year-old March For Our Lives speaker; Mamoudou Gassama, the man who saved a child from falling from a building; Justin Blackman, the only student to walk out of his high school on National Student Walk-Out Day; Shaun King, journalist who has told untold stories in the Black community; and Parkland survivor Anthony Borges.
The evening included performances by Janelle Monae, Nicki Minaj, and Migos. Other big winners of the evening included director Ava DuVernay, grown-ish star Yara Shahidi, Cardi B, SZA, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and, of course, Beyonce.
The full list of winners is below.
Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award
Migos feat. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, “MotorSport”
Kendrick Lamar, “Humble”
*WINNER: Cardi B, “Bodak Yellow”*
Drake, “God’s Plan”
DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, “Wild Thoughts”
SZA feat. Travis Scott, “Love Galore”
Best Movie Award
A Wrinkle in Time
*WINNER: Black Panther*
Girls Trip
Best International Act Award
Booba (France)
Cassper Nyovest (SA)
Dadju (France)
*WINNER: Davido (Nigeria) *
Distruction Boyz (SA)
Fally Ipupa (Dr. Congo)
J Hus (UK)
Niska (France)
Tiwa Savage (Nigeria)
Stefflon Don (UK)
Stormzy (UK)

Best Group Award
Chloe x Halle
A Tribe Called Quest
*WINNER: Migos*
Rae Sremmurd

Best Actress Award
Angela Bassett
Issa Rae
*WINNER: Tiffany Haddish*
Taraji P. Henson
Lupita Nyong’o
Letitia Wright

Best New Artist Award
A Boogie wit da Hoodie
Daniel Caesar

Best Collaboration Award
*WINNER: DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, “Wild Thoughts”*
Bruno Mars feat. Cardi B, “Finesse (Remix)”
Kendrick Lamar feat. Rihanna, “Loyalty”
DJ Khaled feat. Future, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, “Top Off”
Cardi B feat. 21 Savage, “Bartier Cardi”
French Montana feat. Swae Lee, “Unforgettable”

Best Actor Award
*WINNER: Chadwick Boseman*

Denzel Washington
Donald Glover
Daniel Kaluuya
Michael B. Jordan
Sterling K. Brown

Young Stars Award
Caleb McLaughlin
Lonnie Chavis
Marsai Martin
Miles Brown
*WINNER: Yara Shahidi*
Ashton Tyler

Album of the Year Award
Grateful, DJ Khaled
Culture II, Migos
*WINNER: DAMN., Kendrick Lamar*
4:44, Jay-Z
Black Panther: The Album, Kendrick Lamar, and various artists

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist Award
*WINNER: Beyoncé*


Best Male R&B/Pop Artist Award
*WINNER: Bruno Mars*

Chris Brown
The Weeknd
Daniel Caesar

Best Female Hip Hop Artist Award
*WINNER: Cardi B*

Nicki Minaj
Remy Ma
DeJ Loaf

Best Male Hip-Hop Artist Award
DJ Khaled
J. Cole
*WINNER: Kendrick Lamar*

Video of the Year Award
Bruno Mars feat. Cardi B, “Finesse (Remix)”
Cardi B, “Bodak Yellow”
Migos feat. Drake, “Walk It Talk It”
DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, “Wild Thoughts”
*WINNER: Drake, “God’s Plan”*
Kendrick Lamar, “Humble”

Video Director of the Year Award
*WINNER: Ava Duvernay*

Chris Brown
Director X
Dave Meyers
Benny Boom

Sportswoman of the Year Award
Elana Meyers Taylor
*WINNER: Serena Williams*
Candace Parker
Skylar Diggins-Smith
Venus Williams

Sportsman of the Year Award
*WINNER: Lebron James*

Odell Beckham Jr.
Stephen Curry
Kevin Durant
Dwayne Wade

Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award
*WINNER: Lecrae feat. Tori Kelly, “I’ll Find You”*

Snoop Dogg feat. B Slade, “Words Are Few”
Ledisi and Kirk Franklin, “If You Don’t Mind”
Marvin Sapp, “Close”
Tasha Cobbs Leonard feat. Nicki Minaj, “I’m Getting Ready”
BET Her Award
Janelle Monaé, “Django Jane”
Lizzo, “Water Me”
*WINNER: Mary J. Blige, “Strength of a Woman”*
Remy Ma feat. Chris Brown, “Melanin Magic (Pretty Brown)”
Chloe x Halle, “The Kids Are Alright”
Leikeli47, “2nd Fiddle”