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Review: Uncle Drew

(L to R) Chris Webber, Nate Robinson, Lisa Leslie, Shaquille O’Neal as, Lil Rel Howery, Kyrie Irving, Reggie Miller, and Erica Ash star in Lionsgate Films' UNCLE DREW

I don’t believe that people are going into Uncle Drew hoping for a great cinematic experience. It stars mostly athletes and is using a crazy gimmick as a selling point, so you can’t possibly be expecting too much from it. On the other hand, there will be plenty of people who will think this is going to be awful, but they might be in for a slight shock themselves if they ever get around to giving the movie a chance at some point.

Dax (Lil Rel Howery) finds himself in desperate need of a victory. After putting his life savings on the line just to enter the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, he’s faced with a series of setbacks both on and off the court. One of those setbacks was losing his entire squad to Mookie (Nick Kroll), his longtime rival. In order to rebound and end his losing streak, Dax recruits a street legend known as Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) to help. From there, the two men embark on a road trip to get Drew’s old team back together, win the tournament, and finally complete some unfinished business.

You pretty much already know what you’re getting from Uncle Drew as far as story and outcome are concerned. Under the most usual of circumstances, this can be perceived as a bad thing, but when it comes to this specific type of sports movie, I don’t know if that’s the case. What we get in terms of story is predictable and is made to fit in with a large chunk of other sports stories, but that could be what some are looking for.

It’s because of this, that Uncle Drew can be seen as safe and mostly “family friendly.” Here, they want you to root and cheer for the underdog while being able to laugh and watch actual athletes ply the trade that made all of them famous. You won’t get too many unexpected twists, turns, or anything like that. What you’re getting is a feature-length picture that aims to please its audience.

It doesn’t get much deeper than that even though it tries when it comes to the drama. To accomplish that, they try to use things to generate interest in character arcs, but a large chunk of it is simply unnecessary. That’s partially because it just takes up time, but it’s also because most of the audience probably won’t care all that much anyway. Not that it matters, but the smart thing to do would have been to get rid of at least a couple of these small subplots just to get it all to move faster.

Over the course of the movie, you’ll get a sense that the people involved in making Uncle Drew are just trying to have as much fun as possible. And since most of the actors are athletes and former athletes, I’d imagine that they brought some new kind of energy to the set. Add that to the fact that everybody else is a comedian, you were bound to get a high energy movie with a welcoming aura about it.

I think the way it comes together and all of the positives help in making the movie more bearable. While it’s not fantastic or highly memorable, Uncle Drew serves its purpose and works better than I figured it would. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for with anything in entertainment. The feel, the effort put into it, and the desire to please the audience can really save projects like this one.

Rating: PG-13

Director: Charles Stone III

Kyrie Irving
Lil Rel Howery
Shaquille O’Neal
Reggie Miller
Nate Robinson
Chris Webber
Erica Ash
Lisa Leslie
Nick Kroll

Film Length: 103 minutes

Release Date: June 29, 2018

Distributor: Lionsgate

  • 6/10
    Score - 6/10
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