Review by Jeanne Antoinette
Desperate to win the Rucker Classic streetball tournament and the cash prize, Dax stumbles upon the man, the myth, the legend Uncle Drew (NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving) and convinces him to return to the court one more time.
Somehow Pepsi figured out how to turn a commercial into a feature-length film, but it doesn’t exactly make you go “Ahhh!” with that zing of fizzy refreshment. The commercial character of “Drew” comes to the big screen telling the story of his years as a baller (for Pepsi). It’s an odd backstory to the backstory of the film “Uncle Drew,” although mildly interesting.
The film “Uncle Drew” leads off with side player and hustler, Dax (Lil Rel Howery), who is determined to take a team all the way on the infamous Ruckers court at the 50th annual tournament. He has a hot player and he’s banked his whole savings on him with the hopes of winning the $100G purse. However, his house of cards starts to quickly crumble when hot player (and the rest of the team) take their Space Jams and ditch him to play for Dax’s b-ball rival, a white boy thug named Mookie (Nick Kroll). Dax’s beautiful bitch ass ho of a girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish) is only after her promised half of the winnings, so when she finds out that Mookie now has hot players, she kicks Dax out and shacks up with Mookie instead.
Now homeless, Dax hits the streets, desperately trying to scrounge up a team, any team. He’s heard the legend of Uncle Drew, but he doesn’t really believe it…until he happens upon a white, fuzzy-headed septuagenarian (Kyrie Irving) schooling a “young blood” on the court. From there, you can figure the rest of it out. Really.
As with most of my screenings, I didn’t previously know anything about Pepsi’s Drew. So, when the film opened with a historical-type narrative, framed by black and white picture reels, I was taken. For about ten minutes, I was actually wondering if this film was based on a real story and maybe I had lucked out after all. I was briefly excited – until I realized it was just a fake-umentary. Ah well, Pepsi, you got me for a minute…because…well, you’re good at selling.
The best part of this film was the special effects of transforming the actors to look 40 years older than they were. The worst part of the film was that even the best part was cheaply transparent. Beautiful white teeth, luscious lips, smooth necks, stuffed costuming, and under those lumpy pillows, the physical prowess to dunk, dribble and debilitate their opponents with their baller ankle-breaking moves. But honestly, the whole plot line of seventy-year-olds winning a basketball tournament is more of a spoof than a serious attempt anyway, right? (Oops, did I give the ending away….?)
More than that, it’s the same old tired genre of black comedy, featuring a ragtag crew of sidelined (basketball) players and barely famous actors/comedians, gratuitously twerking their booty humor and riding on nothing more than an affiliated sponsor. Pepsi believes their fizzy beverage is the best and they are selling it with this story about their commercial character Drew (originating from 2012). Unfortunately, you’ll need a lot more than a cold soda to have a good time with “Uncle Drew.” More like two ice cream sticks and a rubber band. Plus the little blue pill.
In theaters Friday, June 29th
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