“Uncle Drew” is a story based on the characters from a Pepsi NBA Commercial Ad. After accumulating a following and much buzz, it was decided to turn the story into a film with the help of Pepsi Productions, Summit Entertainment, and Temple Hill Productions. “Uncle Drew” is directed by Charles Stone III and written by Jay Longino. This film was “da bomb” and the right timing for a 2018 summer comedy hit.
The story begins as Dax (Lil Rel Howery) has dreamed to be a basketball player all his life. His dreams are dashed to pieces when a his lifetime rival, Mookie (Nick Kroll) knocks the ball out of his hands as a young teen. Coming from humble beginnings as an orphan, Dax has always struggled with overcoming obstacles. His girlfriend Jess (Tiffany Haddish) abandons him after he loses control of what he thinks is the winning team of young street ball players including Casper (Aaron Gordon). To make matters worse Dax has bet his life savings of $5000 on the 50th Anniversary Rucker Basketball Tournament. Dax’s dream is to find a winning team and win the purse of $100,000, which will solve all his financial woes.
He comes into to the barbershop and gets advice from an older gentleman named Angelo (J. B. Smoove). Angelo and the others reminisce about the days of Uncle Drew and his team. After miraculously bumping into Uncle Drew at a street game, Dax calls upon Uncle Drew for inspiration and tells him about the Rucker 50th Anniversary. Dax hopes he can learn a few things from him and the old crew that Uncle Drew re-assembles. Things begin to look up as Dax takes a ride in Uncle Drew’s van to round up the rest of his old friends. Throughout the film, Dax is not entirely honest with Uncle Drew about his agenda and the money. This film has great pacing and not too lengthy. It’s safe to say that most people love an underdog story and this film fits nicely into the mold.
This film has a lot of throwback nostalgic material and music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s (like poppin’, tuttin’, and breakdancing infused with some current dances). Uncle Drew is determined to teach Dax about the necessities of respecting the “old school rules”. This film takes the audience on a “Fantastic Voyage” (Lakeside). “Uncle Drew” is light-hearted and humorous at the right points. I enjoyed the element of surprise…not knowing what the characters were going to do next. Although the formula was straight forward and predictable, it was enjoyable to take ride along with Uncle Drew, Dax and the old crew of street ballplayers. “Uncle Drew” took me to a place where back in the day, people respected their elders, and everything had its place and time. Cinematically, most shots were wide because of ball court scenes, church, apartment, and karate dojo, the club, and the hospital. There was some slow motion action and aerial shots delivered nicely on the basketball courts. Many close ups and medium shots were conversations, in the barbershop, Uncle Drew’s van, and senior citizen home.
Overall, I would give this sports comedy a 3 stars out of 4. I appreciated the film highlighting African American landmark areas such as Harlem in NYC, and the statue of MLK in Washington D. C. I liked that this film was kid and teen friendly and great life lessons and messages 1. Never give up on your dreams no matter what and 2. Older/elderly people are still cool and that we can learn a thing or two from their experiences.
Cast are as follows but not limited to:
Kyrie Irving-Uncle Drew
Lil Rel Howery-Dax
Ashton Tyler-Young Dax
Shaquille O’Neal-Big Fella
Lisa Leslie-Betty Lou, Preacher’s wife
Tiffany Haddish-Jess, girlfriend
Nick Kroll as Mookie, Dax’s longtime rival
Aaron Gordon as Casper
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