It’s like an in-joke but no one was ever in on the joke in the first place!
Synopsis: After draining his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, Dax is dealt a series of unfortunate setbacks, including losing his team to his longtime rival. Desperate to win the tournament and the cash prize, Dax stumbles upon the man, the myth, the legend UNCLE DREW and convinces him to return to the court one more time. The two men embark on a road trip to round up Drew’s old basketball squad and prove that a group of septuagenarians can still win the big one. (Elevation Pictures)
Starring: Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery, and Shaquille O’Neal
Writer: Jay Longino
Director: Charles Stone III
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 103mins
Surprise! To be frank, this one is not great. Was it ever going to be, though? As expected, Uncle Drew is an unexciting, in joke of a film that is purely made for fans of the cast and crew involved. Although there is some sparks of creativity here and there, this never manages to escape the simple, uninteresting territory from where it started as a series of Pepsi Max commericals.
Not only is the story here nothing new, but we’ve in fact already seen this multiple times this year. Man needs help. Man goes to another man for help. Together, man one and man two go recruit a team to get help. Too many films follow this basic plot line, and unfortunately, Uncle Drew follows it without adding anything remotely interesting to it. Although comedies aren’t held to the same standard if they are funny enough, this one simply doesn’t have enough going for it to make up for its quite poor and incredibly familiar story.
What will come to no one’s surprise, the film is even further brought down by some of the most blatant product placement in recent memory. This is the first film by newly found production companies, Pepsi Films and Gatorade Films, and they are definitely getting their value here. However, considering their products are in nearly every frame of the film, it becomes extremely distracting to the point where it actually detracts from potential enjoyment.
Unfortunately, the acting is quite poor as well. Although all of the basketball player cast members here didn’t have much to work with, the fact that this isn’t their profession still shows off. Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew, Shaquille O’Neal as Big Fella and others are definitely trying to do something here, but unfortunately, there isn’t much for them to build off of. This is a novelty film with novelty casting anyways, so there is surely a large group of people who will love to see all their favorite basketball players together in a film no matter what. The other cast members are fine, but are definitely not at their peak. Lil Rel Howery as Dax is nowhere near how good he was in Get Out, and Tiffany Haddish as Jess is simply annoying in this. Out of everyone involved, Nick Kroll as Mookie, who is often a highlight, is one here too.
Ultimately, one of its worst faults- it’s not even funny! And, the script is the true victim here. The screenwriters continue to pursue truly immature and unfunny humor that becomes exhausting in the first few minutes of the film, especially since none of the humor here is original, or even funny. If there’s anything worth complimenting in this film, it’s the impressive makeup used to make the young Irving look like a completely new person.
At the end of the day, this is a truly unfunny, uninteresting film that does nothing remotely special enough to grab the attention of its audience members.