I'll admit, I was a Doubting Thomas. The premise seemed extremely thin, like when a Saturday Night Live sketch is turned into movie. The trailers did little to inspire hope. It had Shaquille O'Neal, whose IMDB page would make Freddie Prinze Jr. embarrassed. It appeared destined for the almighty zero on Rotten Tomatoes.
"It" being "Uncle Drew," the somewhat-entertaining Pepsi commercial turned feature film. For those unfamiliar with the ad campaign, Kyrie Irving and a handful of retired NBA stars put on make-up to look like geriatrics, show up at a neighborhood park, ball against a group of
stand-in actors unsuspecting regulars, hilarity ensues. That Hollywood took this recurring set-up and made it a full-length movie truly shows that studios have run out of idea. (Which is a perfect time to pitch my film, "By the Book." Imagine a cop who, wait for it, does play by the rules! Lot of paper work being filled out, working security at ball games for overtime money, radaring people on the sideway only to let them off with a warning...it's like "Training Day," only the exact opposite.)
Anyway, "Uncle Drew" hits theaters this weekend, meaning the early reviews are in. And they are surprisingly...not bad!
"Amusing, if not a slam-dunk," says the Hollywood Reporter.
"At heart, Uncle Drew is a personality-driven film," reports IndieWire.
"It's one of those lightweight summer diversions that's a hundred times funnier than you expect. Which isn't to say it's great - just not as disposable as it could have been," semi-raves Entertainment Weekly.
"Uncle Drew, the old-school streetballer played by NBA all-star Kyrie Irving, is a cheerfully scruffy creation, and so is the film that bears his name," factually states Slant Magazine.
Keep in mind, these aren't the "The must-see event of the summer!" tags you see from obscure news stations on Adam Sandler vehicles; these are legit publications.
Not to say "Uncle Drew" is universally beloved. "I don't want to say that making a movie out of a Pepsi commercial was a bad idea, because I believe it could be done," says Fred Toppel of Monsters and Critics. "I mean, Ernest made nine movies, but Uncle Drew is no Ernest P. Worrell." Cold-blooded. Still, at 59 percent approval rating, "Uncle Drew" is more critically-sound than the new Jurassic Park movie.
True, out-acting a dinosaur might seem like a low bar. But it's one we didn't think this movie would be able to hurdle.