Review: Basketball comedy 'Uncle Drew' amusing, but slight

Kyrie Irving takes center court in sports film, but the hoops star should keep his day job

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

When it comes down to it, "Uncle Drew" is a feature-length comedy about watching basketball players play basketball in old people makeup. Comparatively, "Space Jam" was a study of quantum physics. 

Kyrie Irving (left) stars in "Uncle Drew."

That doesn’t mean "Uncle Drew" is without its charms. But it's so slight it barely registers, like draining a three-pointer at the buzzer when your team is down 30 points. 

Dax ("Get Out's" Lil Rel Howley) is a Foot Locker employee squaring up for an annual street ball tournament with a $100,000 purse when his team and his girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish) are stolen by his childhood rival, Mookie (a hilarious Nick Kroll).

Down and out, Dax runs into Uncle Drew (current Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving, made up to look like he's 70 years old), a street ball legend who went missing from the scene decades earlier. Dax convinces Uncle Drew to return to the game, and Drew rounds up his old pals (played by Shaquille O'Neal, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, Chris Webber and Lisa Leslie, all done up to look like grandparents) to take back the court and teach the young bloods a thing or two about hoops.

“Uncle Drew” has an enjoyably light comic tone, with jokes derived from the players’ real-life careers (yes, there’s a “time-out” joke directed at Webber). And as the years have taught us – whether it’s Larry Johnson throwing down dunks as “Grandmama” or Spike Jonze donning senior citizen get up and skateboarding in “Jackass” – it’s amusing watching athlete types do their thing while dressed as retirees.

Not that the Pepsi-produced “Uncle Drew” was ever going to be much more than that, but the emotional investment is so low it makes a game of HORSE look high stakes in comparison. Strip away the makeup and the basketball court is all but empty.

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'Uncle Drew'


Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, language and brief nudity

Running time: 104 minutes