By Patrick Bracken
Citizen Chronicle Film Critic
My one experience with basketball was in middle school.
I joined an intramural team with stars in my eyes and a song in my heart. That first season I scored five points. Not per game, for the entire season. The one game my team won was the game I missed because of a cold. I quickly realized that I was never going to “Be like Mike.”
All of which means that I may not be the ideal person to review Uncle Drew, a feature film expansion of a Pepsi commercial featuring basketball players in old-age make-up. The story involves Dax (Lil Rel Howery, last seen in Get Out), a former street basketball star trying to gain redemption by coaching a team to the championship of the Rucker Classic streetball tournament. When an old rival (a hammy Nick Kroll) steals his team right out from under him, Dax decides to gather a team of old streetball players in a last-ditch effort to save his reputation.
From there, the movie writes itself. Nothing in the least bit surprising happens, except that the real-life professional basketball players are the funniest and most charming actors in the movie. Done up in convincing old-person makeup, stars like Kyrie Irving, Reggie Miller, Lisa Leslie and Nate Robinson do a credible job of acting 40 years older while giving the audience a real reason to cheer. Chris Webber stands out as Preacher: done up in a James Brown wig and delivering the film’s funniest lines, he steals the movie from the professional actors. If that basketball thing doesn’t work out, this kid has a future on screen.
(Tiffany Haddish, in particular, is wasted. Although not to worry, Haddish fans; based on the previews seen before Uncle Drew she’s going to be in every single movie for the rest of the year.)
For audiences going to see Uncle Drew for the basketball, it delivers. The spinning, juking, and slam-dunking is very well filmed, although I could swear that there was some travelling going on. Then again, what do I know?
I still remember the highlight of my basketball career. I was at the three-point line and saw an open teammate on the other side of the basket. I went to pass it across the court to him and the ball stopped halfway and accidentally went into the basket. Uncle Drew is like that shot. It scores, but I’m not sure how.