Mindless fun with a pleasant nod to old age and cliches.
Director: Charles Stone III (Lila & Eve)
Screenplay: Jay Longino (Skiptrace)
Cast: Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery (Tag)
Runtime: 1 hr 43 min
by John DeSando
The award for the most clichés and stereotypes in one film this year goes to Uncle Drew. Add to that the most adherences to the “comeback” theme in a decade. Yet this may be one of the few knuckleheaded fun movies on the screen this year.
Although thirty-something Dax (Lil Rel Howerey) has never recovered from his basketball-blocked-shot humiliation as a teen, he continues to pour love into the game by entering a team in the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem. Goaded by a white, trash-mouthed rival, Mookie (Nick Kroll), Dax assembles a team of old-timers that includes Uncle Drew (NBA All Star Kyrie Irving) and very big, Big Fella (Shaquille O’Neal) as well as Lisa Leslie MVP of the WNBA; and NBA stars Nate Robinson; Chris Webber; and Reggie Miller.
You could write the script from herein because the formula is safe with director Charles Stone III and writer Jay Longino. However, the casting is inspired, for the team, including WNBA star Lisa Leslie playing Betty Lou, is warm and talented, and in most cases talented comic actors albeit gifted players at the same time.
The dialogue is low-level street smart and relies on old-guy, short-guy tropes as if the characters were trying to talk as fast as they dunk shots. While some of it may be lost because of the rapidity, the joyful spirit is never.
The film uses the common mantra in sports and boy-men films, (consult Tag): “You don’t stop playing because you get old. You get old because you stop playing.” Like everything else here, not terribly original but delivered with zest.
It’s an escapist good time kids of any age will enjoy, and youngsters may gain a respect for their elders and a game that has launched many careers and saved many psyches.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com