Movie Review: Uncle Drew

After watching the emotionally heavy film Jackie, I had to watch something funny, and the only funny movie I had checked out from the library was Uncle Drew. I saw the trailer for it a long time ago, but didn’t know if it would interest me. But after watching it, I was sorely mistaken: it was so funny and also had a beautiful message.

It’s about this basketball coach named Dax Winslow who is struggling with encouraging his team, as well as trying to please his girlfriend, Jess, by buying nice things for her. He also has a rival named Mookie Bass who puts Dax down and even gets Dax’s team to turn on him when Dax buys them all the latest shoes when working his shift at Foot Locker. Dax loses all hope in coaching the team, until he finds a retired basketball player named Uncle Drew who proves a group of young basketball players wrong when he beats them at their game (they think that just because he walks slower than they do and has grey hair that he is a grandpa and thus cannot play basketball). Dax catches up with Uncle Drew after the game and asks if Uncle Drew can join his team since Dax is short on players (Mookie Bass stole his teammates from him). At first Uncle Drew is reluctant but then agrees to join if Dax lets him also recruit Drew’s old teammates.

Everyone else on the team is a retire basketball player, and at first Dax is having a hard time convincing them to come back to playing, but in encouraging them to get back in the game, Dax also comes to terms with his own past struggles. He stopped playing basketball after he missed a shot during a game and his teammates felt he let them down, but after seeing Uncle Drew and his teammates show their stuff during games, Dax realizes that he must overcome his fear of getting back on the court.

It was also a really cool movie because towards the middle of the film, Shaquille O’Neal’s character, Big Fella, has his headphones in, and when he takes them off, we hear the words “Nam myoho renge kyo”. As a Nichiren Buddhist, this was such a cool scene because the only other times I’ve heard Nam myoho renge kyo used in films and movies is What’s Love Got to Do With It? (I still have yet to see it, but that’s how most people I encounter have heard of NMRK) and one episode of The Simpsons. The movie also has a message that very much resonates with Nichiren Buddhism. There’s a concept in Nichiren Buddhism called fundamental darkness, which means that we cannot see the potential inside of us. When we do what is called our human revolution, or self transformation, we awaken to the reality that we each have innate courage, wisdom and compassion and this gives us the strength to face our problems head on and overcome them. Dax’s fundamental darkness in this context is that he can’t see his potential to win at basketball and encourage his team, but when he overcomes his fear, he awakens to his potential and even his girlfriend is impressed (it’s also his chance to prove Mookie Bass wrong since Mookie thought Dax never had a chance).

Even though I don’t know much about basketball and have only played a few times (although more often than not just shooting hoops by myself at the gym), I really loved this film and thought it was cool to see these influential people like Lisa Leslie and Kyrie Irving in this heartwarming fun film. The only people in basketball I knew before seeing this film were Shaquille O’Neal and Lisa Leslie (sad but true).

Even though Nick Kroll plays a jerk in this film, I still love him in The Kroll Show. Also, he has a nice smile. And I also loved seeing Lil Rey Howery (who plays Dax) because he was in Get Out and I love that movie. His role in that film made watching the film less stressful because he was the voice of reason to Daniel Kaluuya’s character, Chris. Chris was convinced his girlfriend’s parents were okay even though there was something fishy about the town they were in, and it took Lil Rey Howery, who plays Chris’s friend Rod, to tell him to get the hell out of that town and leave the girlfriend and her family since they were planning to kill him.