“Uncle Drew” stars Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery, Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller, Chris Webber, Nate Robinson, Lisa Leslie, and Nick Kroll. Released on June 29, 2018, the film is about a manager who convinces a former streetball legend to compete in a tournament.
The film is directed by Charles Stone III, who also directed films such as “Drumline”, “Paid in Full”, “Mr. 3000”, and “Lila & Eve”. It is based on Irving’s titular character in the Pepsi Max advertisements. We usually see popular athletes take on the acting business in film and television, most notably Shaquille O’Neal. They may not be as great as their talents on the court, but they certainly know how to make themselves known on the big screen. This latest comedy unites some of the former NBA players with the comedians of the 2010s, which is quite an interesting strategy for those who grew up watching basketball. I haven’t watched basketball that much when I was growing up, but the film’s concept and the cast had enough interest for me to go check it out. Kyrie Irving created the character Uncle Drew for the Pepsi Max commercials, and now he’s making his big-screen debut in hopes of luring in people who are unfamiliar with his character, and possibly get more people to buy some Pepsi products. Will he be able to accomplish this task? Let’s find out.
The story revolves around Dax (Lil Rel Howery), a manager who’s dealing with some unfortunate issues after spending his life savings to enter his team in a basketball tournament, including losing his entire team to his rival, Mookie (Kroll). He later meets Uncle Drew (Irving), a former streetball player whose skills on the court made him a legend. Hoping to turn his luck around and win the tournament, Dax convinces Drew to come out of retirement, reunite with his old basketball squad, and play for him. Sports comedies tend to provide plenty of laughs and plenty of sports action to attract their audience, and “Uncle Drew” appears to be no different. While it won’t win any awards for creativity and storytelling, the film was able to find the right amount of heart and fun to score some three-pointers. The cast offered some likable performances, including Lil Rel Howery as Dax, but it was the NBA stars that really made the film enjoyable to me, like Irving as the title character. Ranging from their entertaining portrayals to the make-up designs, the famous basketball icons finally proved the naysayers wrong by giving people something to cheer for when they’re not on the basketball court. I was also surprised to say that the former NBA players delivered some more laughs than the actual comedians themselves. I’m not kidding, I actually laughed more at the basketball players than the likes of Tiffany Haddish and Nick Kroll. Sure, these actors had some amusing moments, but they weren’t as amusing as a bunch of old ball players having a dance battle. Even though the film revolves around basketball, it’s more about people respecting one another and not letting their mistakes define their lives and their friendships. The story does have a few sports comedy cliches and predictable moments that were pretty challenging to avoid, but Charles Stone III managed to dribble around these noticeable flaws in order to get the message across in terms of his direction.
Overall, despite its cliches and a predictable story, “Uncle Drew” is a slam dunk. Thanks to its entertaining cast, some hilarious humor, and a heartwarming message, the film made the right shots in all the right places. I could definitely see this being relatable to an older audience because of its concept. As for those who wanted a good laugh and to see their favorite basketball players on the big screen, it’s a decent watch.