Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Uncle Drew (2018)

Many years ago, when MMORPGs first came out, people seemed to be addicted.  The truth was that such games charged by the month, prompting people to play as much as possible.  I’ve noticed that MoviePass has had a similar effect on me.  Since the program charges by the month, there’s little incentive not to see a movie if I’m even marginally interested in it.  Such is the case with Uncle Drew.  My parents and I went out to see a movie and this was one we could all agree on.

The movie is about a man named Dax.  As you may have gathered from the coming attractions, he’s coaching a team entered in the Rucker Classic.  He’s literally put all of his money into the tournament.  Unfortunately, his entire team defects to his archrival, Mookie.  Thus, Dax has to get a new team together.  By chance, he meets a legend by the name of Uncle Drew.  Uncle Drew played in the tournament years ago, but he and his team disappeared before the final game.  Drew agrees to get his team back together for one more game.

I will admit that I probably wouldn’t have seen the movie in theaters had I not had MoviePass.  I probably would have waited for it to come out streaming, if anything.  This isn’t to say it’s bad.  It’s just that with three people going to see a movie, we needed something that we’d all agree on and this seemed the safest choice.

I’d warn of spoilers, but that’s kind of pointless here.  You can see a lot of the plot twists coming.  First, the team is geriatric.  Dax and Drew visit an actual nursing home to pick up one of the players, who’s bound to a wheelchair.  Another is legally blind.  So, yeah.  It’s about people you wouldn’t expect to be able to hold a ball beating those that would seem more capable.  And, yes.  They do quite well for themselves.

This is going to be my biggest spoiler:  You also know that one of the players will have to be replaced, most likely due to injury.  It’s just a question of when and how.  We also get not one but two replacements.  This leads to another cliché of Dax having to confront Mookie about their past.  Dax never could get over being denied what would have been the game-winning shot.

I also find it odd that in any movie involving a tournament, archrivals will be seeded so that they’ll have to face off in the finals.  The teams will never face off in the first round and both teams will definitely make it all the way, no matter how many obstacles are thrown at them.

It’s also a noticeably male-dominated movie.  Dax’s initial girlfriend, Jess, seems to be little more than an annoyance for him to move past.  Even the love interest, Maya, is little more than that.  She’s granddaughter to Boots and initially just his caretaker.  Yes, Preacher’s wife agrees to play, but it’s only for the final game.  The women are there, just not as main characters.

The movie was based on a series of commercials that Kyrie Irving stared in for Pepsi, hence Pepsi co-producing the film.  It also explains a lot of the product placement, like Pepsi vending machines and Gatorade-bottles.  (Gatorade and Pepsi are both produced by PepsiCo.)  I even noticed a sign for Oberto, which was distributed by PepsiCo subsidiary, Frito-Lay.  The product placement wasn’t over the top, but it was noticeable.

Despite all of this, the movie is enjoyable.  I wouldn’t call it memorable.  It’s the kind of movie you would probably see in a group because everyone can agree on it.  I don’t know that you’ll get a lot of replay out of it, though.  It’s an excuse to see basketball players star as older basketball players.  This is where a lot of the humor comes from.  Boots is unresponsive until Drew throws a basketball at him.  Later on, he can miraculously walk.  Boots is nearly blind and can’t make a shot at a Dave & Busters.  With corrective lenses, he can do quite well for himself.

There is a certain logic in having basketball players play basketball players.  Shaquille O'Neal is no stranger to acting.  The other basketball players don’t have as many credits to their respective names, but do alright.  I’m not sure I’d rush to see it unless you have one of the pay-by-the-month programs like MoviePass or AMC’s A-List.  I think most people will be happy waiting for it to come out on DVD.

 IMDb page

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