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Movie Review: 'Uncle Drew'


You know what you don’t see much of these days? PG-rated movies. I looked it up: Only 16 percent of movies last year were rated PG. This isn’t actually anything new, it’s been going on for a while, but it’s for a reason—the perception is that PG movies don’t sell. PG-13 is where the big money is. In reality, PG does just fine financially, but that doesn’t matter—studio execs want PG-13, so that’s what they get.

The new comedy Uncle Drew is a prime example of this. It’s pretty much a PG movie that I guess does just enough to get a PG-13 rating.

Uncle Drew tells the story of a New York street basketball legend named, yes, “Uncle Drew,” who’s disappeared for decades, but is found and brought out of retirement so that he can lead a team to win a high-stakes streetball tournament. Uncle Drew is played by actual NBA star Kyrie Irving, made up to look like he’s 75 years old, and the joke is that Uncle Drew may be ancient, but he can still run all the young pups off the basketball court. In fact, that’s really the only joke in Uncle Drew: Isn’t it funny that very old men are actually amazing basketball players?

Drew insists on building his team with all of his old friends, also in their seventies, all played by current or former pro basketball stars, and all made up to look like very old people. As it turns out, Kyrie Irving is not a good actor, at least not here, and the rest of the basketball players in the movie are only marginally better.

Despite how it sounds, I really didn’t mind Uncle Drew. I didn’t find it funny, but it was generally pleasant and inoffensive—it’s got a sex joke or two, but unless you’ve got a serious moral objection to Shaquille O’Neal’s naked rear end, I really don’t see a reason for its PG-13 rating. If it weren’t for studio bias, this would be a PG movie. It might not really be very good, but it is good, clean fun — “fun” in quotation marks.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.