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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Uncle Drew is a basketball comedy starring NBA All Star Kyrie Irving, with legendary players Shaquille O'Neill, Reggie Miller, Lisa Leslie, Chris Webber, and Nate Robinson co-starring as 70-something retirees who reunite to play in one final street-ball tournament together. Co-produced by ESPN in partnership with Pepsi and Nike, the film features and mentions those brands prominently. Uncle Drew even wears Irving's brand of Nike sneakers in a wink to the athlete behind the old-timer persona. Expect some suggestive jokes and scenes (e.g., a man and a woman in towels make it clear what they were doing in the shower together) and infrequent language ("s--t," "damn," "ass"). But the movie has strong messages about teamwork, taking risks to achieve your goals, and playing for the love of the game; it's generally fine for mature tweens and up, particularly if they're big basketball fans.
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What's the story?
UNCLE DREW follows basketball-obsessed Foot Locker salesman Dax (Lil Rel Howery), whose aspirations for coaching a tournament-winning street-ball team are ruined when his longtime rival, Mookie (Nick Kroll), poaches Dax's team -- and his chances at the first-place team's $100,000 check. With Dax's whole life savings spent on Harlem's Rucker Classic registration fee, he goes on a desperate search for another team ... and finds 70-something Uncle Drew (NBA All Star Kyrie Irving), a street-ball legend who famously played in the same tournament 50 years earlier. Uncle Drew agrees to play for Dax as long as he can recruit his own roster. The duo ends up road-tripping to convince Drew's (very) old teammates to join the crew: Preacher (Chris Webber), wheelchair-bound Boots (Nate Robinson), Big Fella (Shaquille O'Neill), and legally blind Lights (Reggie Miller). The team ends up reconnecting both on and off the court and healing old wounds.
Is it any good?
There might not be anything new about an underdog sports comedy, but this one is entertaining enough even for viewers who can't tell Nike Jordans from Irvings. Howery, best known as the scene-stealing best friend from Get Out, is effective here as the straight man comedy lead. His comedy skills are on point, and he's easily believable as a lovable loser basketball fanatic. Comedy queen Tiffany Haddish co-stars as his hilariously materialistic girlfriend, Jess, who dumps him for Mookie, played by Kroll in a delightfully manic performance.
Uncle Drew and his crew -- that is to say the NBA players past and present -- don't have to do that much to be funny, and audiences don't need to know who's who to enjoy the sight gags, but it helps. For example, those who don't know that Kyrie has his own line of Nike sneakers won't realize that Drew is wearing them throughout most of the movie, and only moviegoers familiar with the players will get a couple of the jokes about their strengths on the court (or in one case, a timeout zinger aimed at Webber -- look up the NCAA championship game from 1993). WNBA star Lisa Leslie also appears as Preacher's intimidating wife, Betty Lou, who knows how to ball but is really just concerned about her dear husband's health. Ultimately, even someone who only knows the names of GOATs like Jordan, Johnson, Jabbar (and OK, O'Neill and Miller) will find reasons to laugh. Is this an amazing movie that will stand the test of time? Not at all. But it's better than expected from the premise and good for inspirational sports-related messages and several belly laughs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the messages in Uncle Drew. What does Uncle Drew mean when he tells Dax that "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take"?
Why do you think sports movies are popular? What about comedies featuring actors in aging makeup/fat suits, etc.? What's the appeal of these sorts of films? How does Uncle Drew stack up?
- In theaters: June 29, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: September 25, 2018
- Cast: LilRel Howery, Nick Kroll, Kyrie Irving
- Director: Charles Stone III
- Studios: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Character strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: suggestive material, language and brief nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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