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Movie Review Friday: Uncle Drew

Here in the heat of summer, breaking news in the world of sports slows down in a major way. UK basketball, football, and baseball games have come to a close. The only professional sports are MLB and golf, with the World Cup being thrown in there this year (without the United States, nonetheless). We have the NBA Draft, free agency, and the summer league, with BBNBA members sprinkled throughout.

Beyond that, the vast majority of UK-specific news comes from AAU basketball events, football recruiting, and whatever practice updates we get from John Calipari and Mark Stoops.

We always strive to pump out quality content here at KSR, but sometimes we have to put on our creative thinking caps to make that happen around this time of year.

So with that, I bring you my latest and greatest idea… *unnecessary drumroll* Movie Review Friday.

Thanks to the most beautiful invention in the world, Movie Pass, I usually see at least one movie in the theaters per week, sometimes two. When I’m bored, I like to Google “best movies of all time” and go down the list to see what I agree with, and which “masterpieces” actually sucked. (I’m looking at you, Shape of Water)

I’m no self-proclaimed movie connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, but I dabble in it a good bit for fun. And so I feel less awkward in social settings when hit movies are topics of conversation.

On Thursday night, I went to see the premiere of the Uncle Drew movie, featuring Boston Celtics superstar Kyrie Irving and former NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller, and Chris Webber, among others.

Let me preface by saying my expectations going into the film were not high. At all. I’m a diehard Celtics fan and adore Kyrie’s on-court abilities (he kind of freaks me out off the court), so my hand was forced. I’d be a bad fan if I DIDN’T see it on opening night. I knew it was probably going to be a mediocre film, and I was cool with that.

If you don’t know the plot, it’s essentially about a group of old men trying to relive their glory days as streetball legends by winning the Rucker Classic tournament in Harlem, New York. The head coach of Uncle Drew’s team is in need of money and has eyes on the $100,000 prize.

The idea comes from Irving’s “Uncle Drew” character developed back in 2012 when he would disguise himself as an old man and destroy the competition at local street basketball venues.

And after leaving the theater, it’s exactly what I thought it would be.

It’s not a sports classic like Remember The Titans, Rudy, or  The Blind Side. It wasn’t even a light-hearted fan-favorite like Space Jam.

It was, however, an entertaining basketball movie with a “meh” plot, carried by star athletes with (surprisingly) decent acting skills. Irving was polished and stole the show, O’Neal and Webber had several funny moments, Nate Robinson was solid, and Lisa Leslie was an impressive sidekick. Reggie Miller wasn’t good, though. At all.

If you had to guess, you could probably come up with the overarching themes without watching a minute of the movie, and the ending was laughably predictable. But not in a cringey way, if that makes sense. Most of the characters were likable and put on solid performances (more on that later), Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic was a solid final level boss like we see in the video games, and the basketball talent was fun. The rims in this film may or may not have been a full foot shorter than regulation size, allowing for guys like O’Neal, Miller, and Webber to still dunk aggressively, but who’s counting.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari also made his major acting debut in the film, a pleasant surprise as a Cats fan. At the end of the movie, Coach Cal approaches Uncle Drew (Irving) and asks him if he has any college eligibility remaining.

“You should have four years (of eligibility) left, right?” he says.

Calipari followed it up with a question about whether or not Uncle Drew would be interested in playing for the Wildcats and what his SAT scores looked like, an obvious jab at the Derrick Rose scandal at Memphis.

Irving responded with an unfortunate hat-tip to the Duke program, saying, “I’m more of a Blue Devil guy, myself.”

Coach Cal even has an IMDB page now for his efforts (and an acting credit on something called N-Secure released back in 2010).

Calipari sent out a few social media posts back in September when he was on the set during filming.

The man himself, Uncle Drew.

A post shared by John Calipari (@ukcoachcalipari) on

Calipari may have a future in this acting thing.

As far as things I didn’t like about the movie (beyond the predictable and cliché writing), Nick Kroll’s villain character easily took the cake. He is meant to be the childhood rival of Uncle Drew’s head coach, a guy who will do whatever it takes to get under his skin and win the tournament. Almost immediately, though, he reeks of arrogance and try-hardness. Very unlikeable character. Very punchable. Very weasely. Easily would be Coach K’s favorite character in the movie.

If you love basketball and have spare time on your hands, go see it. If you have Movie Pass, go see it. If not, it’s probably worth waiting for on DVD/rental/Netflix/cable television.

I was entertained and I had fun. But it didn’t exceed my expectations, nor did they fall short of them.

Overall score: 6/10

That’s all for this edition of Movie Review Friday. If you have any other movies you’d like to see reviewed, let me know in the comment section.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR