Uncle Drew (Full Review)

Many of my favorite comedies are some of the dumbest movies in creation. To be a good comedy, you just have to strike the right chord for the right audience. I remember the firsts time I saw the Pepsi Uncle Drew commercials with NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving dressed as an old man. They were hilarious. For a film version to work, they just needed to keep that same energy.

Uncle_Drew_posterFoot Locker employee, Dax (Lil Rel Howery), is down on his luck and putting everything he has into managing a streetball team that can win a tournament at New York’s famed Rucker Park with a $100,000 cash prize. But when his rival (Nick Kroll) steals his star player (Aaron Gordon) and his girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish), Dax is forced to find a new team. Luckily for him, he stumbles upon 70 year old, streetball legend Uncle Drew (Irving). Drew agrees to play in the tournament, but only with his old teammates, which include a preacher (Chris Webber), a blind shooter (Reggie Miller), a man who doesn’t walk or talk (Nate Robinson), and a 7-foot karate instructor who has beef with Drew (Shaquille O’Neal).

The story is as formulaic as they come, but Uncle Drew succeeds in doing what comedies are supposed to do. The laughs are plentiful and organic from the start. The most prominent comedy with NBA players that I can remember is Space Jam. And while it is a cult classic, none of the players in it did a very good job on the acting front. That isn’t the case here. Retired NBA vets, Miller, Robinson, Shaq, and Webber are all absolutely hilarious. WNBA legend Lisa Leslie also adds comedic flare as Preacher’s tough as nails first lady. The simple fact that they are all clad in makeup and acting like old people while showcasing their ridiculous basketball ability, only adds to the fun.

Uncle Drew doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is. It has a central character that audiences can root for, and a supporting cast that each have their own unique quirks. If Shaq playing a karate instructor, Chris Webber doing a baptism by putting a baby through his legs, Kyrie Irving singing and dancing to music from an 8-track player, and Reggie Miller yelling swish while blindly bricking shots at an arcade, are not funny to you… then you should save your money. But if you found the Uncle Drew commercials goofy and fun, then this film has enough to make your sides split in laughter even if you aren’t a basketball fan.

FINAL GRADE: B

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Get Out (Full Review)

Jordan Peele became a breakout star when he and Keegan-Michael Key launched the sketch comedy show Key & Peele. Getting a mainstream start on MadTV, Peele has always had roots in comedy. Now, the talented comedian/writer who helped make 2016’s action comedy Keanu is playing his hand in the horror genre with a film steeped in racial allegory.

teaser_poster_for_2017_film_get_outGet Out stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, a black photographer who after 5 months of dating his white girlfriend (Allison Williams), is nervously traveling to meet her parents (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener) and her younger brother (Caleb Landry Jones) despite the objections of his best friend (Lil Rel Howery). When the strange activity by the few black members (Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield) of the predominantly white community start to raise his suspicions, Chris finds himself knee deep in an uber eerie racist conspiracy.

Within minutes of watching the film, the first thing that came to my mind were the works of famed horror director Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock’s films like Psycho, Vertigo, and Birds were creepy simply because of subject matter, subtle allegory, and some brilliant camera work. Get Out checks off all of those boxes with precision.

Every ounce of dialogue, every shot, every scene holds purpose. The subtle discomforting comments made by Chris’ older white counterparts before things really go haywire are a perfect metaphor for the underlying prejudices that many have without even realizing they’re being condescending. And the horrific hypnotism subplot provides a great mirror to the constant state of racial appropriation that too often goes unnoticed in our society. From racial profiling to cultural assimilation, Peele leaves no stone unturned in his presentation.

The film isn’t without its flaws. At times it feels as though its preaching to its own choir. And there are a few plot holes that I can’t get into without giving spoilers. Many of the performances aren’t exactly memorable with the exception of lead actor Daniel Kaluuya who engulfs the audience’s unease with his performance. Lil Rel Howery also deserves credit for adding a well balanced dose of comic relief. But more importantly, Get Out is a film in which its concept and execution help it transcend from being a run of the mill horror film into an intelligent suspense thriller. For that reason alone, Jordan Peele is to be absolutely applauded for his work and his directorial career is off to a fantastic start.

FINAL GRADE: B

MOORE REVIEWS Grading Scale:

A = Must See/Top 10 Nominee

B = Good film. Flawed, but still very entertaining

C = Not Bad, but highly flawed/Probably better off waiting for Redbox

D = Terrible Movie with a few redeeming qualities

F = I wanted to walk out/Don’t waste time or money