Uncle Drew is a movie that maybe shouldn’t exist. It mostly stars professional athletes and is based on a series of soda commercials. It makes it more than a little surprising that it is as entertaining as it is. Uncle Drew isn’t the best comedy to come out this year, but it is solid and largely entertaining.
Uncle Drew stars Lil Rey Howery as Dax, the manager of a streetball team gearing up for the Rucker Classic basketball tournament. Just before it is set to start, Dax’s rival Mookie (Nick Kroll) steals his team and his girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish). The dejected Dax then encounters elderly streetball legend Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) and manages to convince him to play for him. One of Drew’s requirements for playing is that he gets to pick the rest of the team, which sets the two of them off on a roadtrip to put his old team back together.
That team includes power forward Preacher (Chris Webber), who is now a minister married to Betty Lou (Lisa Leslie) who does not want Preacher to play. They also pick up Lights (Reggie Miller), a legally blind outside shooting expert and Boots (Nate Robinson), the hyperactive point guard who is now confined to a wheelchair. Along with Boots comes his granddaughter Maya, who becomes Dax’s love interest. Lastly, they pick up Big Fella (Shaquille O’Neal), their center and now martial arts instructor.
It all mostly exists for former, and current, professional athletes to put on old age makeup and make a bunch of old people jokes. The other part mostly involves simplistic life lessons, like echoing Tag’s moral that “you don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing,” and noting that you miss all of the shots you don’t take. It is fine, not profound but doesn’t need to be and is not supposed to be. The last ingredient to formula is seeing these old players school a bunch of youngsters. Other than an early scene of Uncle Drew clowning a young guy near the start, the movie does its best to withhold this part until the end, but it is mostly worth the pay off.
There is just enough the make the characters in this movie actually characters to string things along between the basketball and jokes. There is Dax’s arrested development, with him being trapped in a moment when he got his shot blocked, by Mookie, as a kid and with his feeling alone since he grew up an orphan. There is also the conflict between Big Fella and Uncle Drew that broke up the team all those years ago. It isn’t anything surprising and its resolution is pat, but it is enough of a conflict to be a conflict.
As far as basketball goes, Uncle Drew largely delivers. That is the advantage of casting professional basketball players. The tournament plays out almost exactly how you’d expect it to, but there is enough here to be enjoyable. I don’t know why this movie exists, but I am not upset I used my moviepass to go see it.