Uncle Drew (2018) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

The summer comedy movies so far have been up and down. While I’ve fallen out of sports in general, basketball was always my favorite. Uncle Drew (2018) had my interest as a result – plus, basketball movies often have worked for me. There isn’t as much basketball in this movie as one would expect, considering the majority of the cast are professional basketball players. However, the film is frequently funny, with some positive themes that made it a feel-good summer comedy.

Uncle Drew is a successful basketball comedy that is often a little silly and sappy, but good fun

Dax (Lil Rel Howery) has entered a team into the annual Rucker Classic streetball tournament in Harlem, but his longtime rival, Mookie (Nick Kroll), steals his team. In desperation, Dax begins looking for players and comes across Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving), a streetball legend whose age makes people underestimate him, and they agree to bring back Drew’s old team. They set off on a road trip to find Drew’s old players, and deal with issues from the past.

A lot of the comedy comes from Howery, Tiffany Haddish, and Nick Kroll. Mookie is off the charts as a villain, but he’s better than a few of the stock villains in some of the summer action movies so far – I’m looking at you, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He is inside Dax’s head, and has been since they were children playing youth basketball. Mookie appears to have the life that Dax has wanted, which sets up many of the jokes between them. The film being PG-13 definitely limits what Haddish can say, but she still manages to be pretty funny when she’s around in the film. Initially, her character Jess is Dax’s girlfriend (who he lives with), but – as the trailer implies – things don’t stay that way for very long. Despite having these three comedy regulars, a number of the laughs do come from the basketball players.

Chris Webber has a comedic quality that I would have never expected. He plays Preacher, and is the first stop on the road trip. His wife Betty Lou (Lisa Leslie) isn’t okay with him going to play basketball again, and not being present for his church responsibilities. This premise allows for some over-the-top comedy including a funny chase sequence. Webber isn’t the only basketball player with lots of comedy, as Shaquille O’Neal and Reggie Miller also get some fun moments. In fact, Miller seems to be having the time of his life on this movie hamming it up at times, which create a similarly joyous infectious quality. The cast, in general, managed to bring a ton of laughs to the audience I saw it with, and by the end, I did have a large smile on my face.

Uncle Drew isn’t without some issues. They definitely beat the themes of the film to death. Nothing is subtle here, but their positive qualities do add to the overall experience of the film. The film takes an hour of its run time just assembling the team, leaving little of the film for basketball moments. However, there are some solid moments where the guys get to showcase their talents.

Final thoughts…

Ultimately, the premise of the team being old is silly, but the film was fun as a whole. There is definitely enough in Uncle Drew to make it an enjoyable summer movie. If the sappy moments and the repetition of the themes don’t push you away, then you’ll likely enjoy it. I was pleasantly surprised, and the film earns A Decent Watch rating.

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