Uncle Drew is a 2018 American sports comedy film directed by Charles Stone III and written by Jay Longino. It stars Kyrie Irving as the title character from his Pepsi Max advertisements that started in 2012, along with former NBA players Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, and Nate Robinson, as well as former WNBA player Lisa Leslie; Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish, Erica Ash, J. B. Smoove, Mike Epps, and Nick Kroll also star. The film was released in the United States on June 29, 2018 and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances of the cast but called the direction and screenplay “formulaic”.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Release
- 5 Reception
- 5.1 Box office
- 5.2 Critical response
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Uncle Drew is a well remembered basketball legend who years ago was supposed to play at the Rucker Classic with his team, but due to an uncertain conflict, he and his team broke up and disappeared. Dax is the underappreciated coach of Harlem’s Money who is broke and has had a longstanding rivalry with Mookie. Dax was an orphan who planned on becoming a basketball player, but was humiliated by Mookie after he had blocked a shot from him in their youth. Dax risks losing his star player, Casper Jones, as he spent his life savings on entering the Rucker and for buying an expensive pair of shoes for him and his team. However, Mookie swoops in and steals his team anyway leading to an incident involving Dax forcibly trying to remove Casper’s shoes that is filmed and goes viral. Due to this, Dax’s girlfriend Jess breaks up with him and kicks him out of her apartment.
The cantankerous Angelo eventually approaches Dax about meeting Uncle Drew after he is turned down by other players. Drew turns out to be an exceptional basketball player despite his old age and agrees to join Dax under the condition that they recruit his original team.
They set off on the road and recruit Preacher who had since become an actual preacher, but incur the wrath of his wife Betty Lou who begins to chase them. They next reunite with the partially blind Lights and the wheelchair bound Boots whose granddaughter, Maya works at the nursing home to look after them. They escape and make it to a karate dojo where they get Big Fella, who still holds a grudge against Drew for their earlier conflict. After his credit card is denied, Dax makes a bet with a coach for a young girls basketball team to earn money. Drew and his team lose, but they offer up the money to help Dax and Maya begins to appreciate him for giving the elders another chance at playing.
As they make it back to the Rucker, Drew gives each of his team their gear that restores their faith and abilities, but Big Fella breaks his as it does not wipe away their past and he refuses to cooperate with Drew. Eventually, Drew acknowledges his mistake; sleeping with Big Fella’s now deceased wife before the big game. He admitted that he too loved her and the two make amends.
Meanwhile, Dax learns that Mookie and Jess are now dating, but begins falling for Maya instead who appreciates his caring of the elders. Drew also learns that Dax plans to make money off of the game which angers him, but after learning about Dax’s past, he forgives him and tries to give him words of encouragement. While playing against another team, Big Fella suddenly has a heart attack and is forced to stay at the hospital. Betty Lou arrives and decides to fill in for him.
Dax and his team, now called Harlem’s Buckets, play against Mookie’s team in the finals who ends up being an even match for them. In the last bouts of the game, Lights accidentally knocks out Casper and injures himself forcing Dax and Mookie to fill in. Dax still has some doubt about himself, but Drew gives him the advice he needs and manages to make the final shot, finally beating Mookie and earning everyone’s respect. As the team go to see Big Fella in the hospital, they see on TV Dax being praised for his newfound glory.
During the credits, Jess is shown trying to call Dax about potentially getting back together after breaking up with Mookie. When Dax does not respond, she slowly and comically becomes hysterical.
- Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew, a streetball legend.
- Lil Rel Howery as Dax, a streetball team manager.
- Ashton Tyler as Young Dax
- Shaquille O’Neal as Big Fella, Uncle Drew’s former teammate who now runs a martial-arts dojo.
- Chris Webber as Preacher, Uncle Drew’s former teammate who is now a church minister.
- Reggie Miller as Lights, Uncle Drew’s former teammate who presently seems to be legally blind.
- Nate Robinson as Boots, Uncle Drew’s former teammate who now lives in a retirement home.
- Lisa Leslie as Betty Lou, Preacher’s wife.
- Erica Ash as Maya, Boots’ granddaughter and Dax’s love interest.
- J.B. Smoove as Angelo, a Harlem resident who remembers Uncle Drew.
- Mike Epps as Louis, a Harlem resident who is Angelo’s friend.
- Tiffany Haddish as Jess, Dax’s materialistic ex-girlfriend and Mookie’s girlfriend.
- Nick Kroll as Mookie, Dax’s longtime rival.
- Aaron Gordon as Casper, a streetball player Mookie steals from Dax.
Making cameo appearances as themselves are Sal Masekela, John Calipari, Jon Hammond, Scoop Jackson, Pee Wee Kirkland, Earl Monroe, Chris Mullin, Bill Walton, George Gervin, Steve Nash, David Robinson, Jerry West, Dikembe Mutombo, NeNe Leakes, Rick Barry, Rick Ross, and Ben Nethongkome.
On February 16, 2017, PepsiCo announced that they would partner with Temple Hill Entertainment for the production of a film that would feature the character Uncle Drew, famous from the Pepsi Max advertisements. On September 5, 2017, ESPN’s SportsCenter revealed the cast via their Twitter account. Lil Rel revealed that Kyrie Irving heard about his trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics while filming.
On February 12, 2018, Kyrie Irving announced the release date of June 29, 2018 via his Twitter account. The trailer was tagged along with the screening of Black Panther.
In the United States and Canada, Uncle Drew was released alongside Sicario: Day of the Soldado, and was projected to gross $11–15 million from 2,742 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $6.1 million on its first day, including $1.1 million from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $15.5 million, finishing fourth at the box office behind Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Incredibles 2 and Day of the Soldado.
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 66% based on 56 reviews, and an average rating of 6.1/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Kyrie Irving’s crossover to comedy is amiable enough to score with basketball fans, but Uncle Drew is held back by formulaic direction and too much product placement.” On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews.” Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a “B–” and wrote: “At heart, Uncle Drew is a personality-driven film. The plot is spare, and the storytelling gets super janky whenever screenwriter Jay Longino is asked to manufacture a new obstacle. But as wince-inducing as it can be to watch the film stall for time, or use the Rucker prize money to muster up some hollow conflict, the climactic streetball showdown pays off.” Variety’s Peter Debtuge praised the performances of the NBA players and makeup while saying the film is never that surprising or funny, saying, “While it won’t increase your appetite for zero-calorie sugar water one bit (oddly enough, Nike gets far more prominent on-screen placement), this affectionate basketball-themed comedy from sports-savvy director Charles Stone III comes across as an effective feature-length ad for the game itself.”
- Official website
- Uncle Drew on IMDb