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Uncle Drew (2018)
Directed by: Charles Stone III
Starring: Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery, Shaquille O'Neal
Rated: PG-13 for Suggestive Material, Language and Brief Nudity
Running Time: 1 h 43 m
TMM Score: 1.5 stars out of 5
STRENGTHS: It Knows It's Stupid
WEAKNESSES: It's Stupid, One-Note Joke, Predictable Script
After loosing his star player for the upcoming Rucker Classic tournament, Coach Dax recruits a bunch of washed up players to play ball.
Well, this is a sports movie, so once again I feel like I must confess that I don’t care for sports movies. I have no investment in any sports team whatsoever; the sporting team mania is completely lost on me. I know a lot of people like sports movies, though. I know that, for a lot of people, there’s nothing more exciting than watching their favorite players pass balls back and forth for an hour. But for me, it’s just whatever. That being said, I always try to go into sports movies with an open mind; just last week I reviewed Battle of the Sexes, and I actually enjoyed that quite a bit.
This is a different kind of sports movie though. It’s not one based on a true story, it’s based on a Pepsi Max video that blew up a few years ago. I actually hadn’t watched that video until just a few minutes ago, when I sat down to write this review, but having seen it now, I think this five minute video pretty much sums up the entire joke of this hour and forty-five minute movie. The concept for the video is inventive and fun: a young professional player covertly dressing up as an elderly man to play against normal people. That is pretty funny. It’s the same kind of humor one derives from the Jackass film Bad Grandpa. It’s not highbrow humor, but it gets a few chuckles. This film takes this concept and wrings it out until there’s no juice left in the joke.
Beating a Dead Horse
The biggest problem with this movie is its inability to provide any new type of material for the entire hour and forty-five minute run time. They’re young people dressed up like old people; we get it. At least in the Pepsi Max commercial the people these pros were playing against were clueless as to what was going on; that hidden camera/pranks on you kind of humor adds another element to the joke. This movie completely removes that by making it so that the players are all supposed to be old people. Then, from there, the jokes are all repetitive, the plot is the most basic and predictable storyline I’ve seen in years, and the actors can’t really act- they’re pro athletes, after all. On an unrelated note, there is still a ridiculous amount of Pepsi product placement (see right).
The basic premise is that Dax (Lil Rel Howery, Get Out) needs a new team to enter a basketball tournament, so he starts recruiting geriatric basketball players.
<insert generic team assembling sequence here>
Remember Ocean’s Eleven, how when George and Brad started to assemble their team and we got brief, but humorous introductions to all of the characters? Those introductions were a slick, classy way to bring in a ton of characters all at once- the scene itself was probably five to ten minutes long, and in that time we learned a little bit about each of the personalities of the people that we would come to root for. This movie tries to do the exact same thing, but instead of a quick montage, it gives every character an individual introductory scene. Each scene has one joke that they beat to death over and over again. Chris Webber is a pastor, and he’s going to baptize a baby by dunking him in water like one dunks a basket, and Dax tries to stop him. Webber also has a wife that is unnaturally clingy. Shaquille O’Neal is into Kung-Fu. Nate Robinson is in a wheelchair. Reggie Miller is legally blind. You can probably guess the jokes that come from all of these disabilities. The jokes aren’t clever or creative in any way; a middle school student could’ve written
Not The Target Audience
For a while, I wondered if some of the jokes weren’t really landing with me because I had no idea who 90% of these people actually were. I’ve of course heard of Shaq, but that’s about it. I know Nick Kroll more than I know Kyrie Irving. I’ve only seen one movie with Lil Rel Howery, but I’ve never seen Reggie Miller play ball. I think huge fans of the NBA will probably get a kick out of seeing their old stars dressed up in jerseys again. The love interest character for Dax, Maya (Erica Ash, Scary Movie 5) continually says something along the lines of: “Isn’t it great to just see them playing again?” I think that sentence pretty much sums up why this movie got made.
These are aging basketball players. They’ve passed their glory days, and now they’re looking for something to do. This whole movie was an excuse for old players to get back together and play some ball once more.
This is not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s competent, though completely juvenile, in its storytelling. The jokes are worn out and tiring by the time this film ends, and the acting is not great. But… I didn’t go into this movie expecting a best picture winner; I went into it expecting what I got, which is more than I can say for some other comedies this year (looking at you Action Point). If you’re a huge fan of basketball, or any of these players, I can almost guarantee you will enjoy this film more than I. For me, not much worked, but basketball diehards may think differently.
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