Film Review: “Uncle Drew”

Starring:  Kyrie Irving, Lil Rel Howery and Shaquille O’Neal
Directed by:  Charles Stone III
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  1 hour 43 mins

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Lew Alcindor.  Nate Archibald.  Wilt Chamberlain.  Dr. J.

All of these basketball legends got their start by playing in Rucker Park in New York City.  But they all pale in comparison to the greatest streetball player ever…Uncle Drew.

Our story begins on the famous basketball court as it is being prepared for the 50th Anniversary Tournament.  Dax (Howery) is the coach of a team entered and he’s got a secret weapon – a big man named Casper (Aaron Gordon).  Dax goes out of his way to let Casper know he is loved, not wanting to lose him to a flashier (or better) coach.  Dax was, at one time, a promising basketball player, but an incident during a championship game, when a potential game-winning shot was blocked, his round-ball Karma hasn’t been very good.  And it gets worse when his girlfriend kicks him out and Casper runs to a team coached by Mookie (an obnoxious Nick Kroll).  At his wits end, Dax has a chance run-in with the infamous Uncle Drew.  He convinces him to get his original team together to play for chance to be the champs.  Go Moneys!

I don’t know why, but basketball players make good actors.  Michael Jordan in “Space Jam.”  Ray Allen in “He Got Game.”  Kareem Abdul Jabbar in “Airplane.”  Lebron James in “Trainwreck.”  Now you can add to the list current Boston Celtic Kyrie Irving.  Playing a character 40-plus years older than he is, Irving gives a strong, soulful performance.  And he is joined by fellow former superstars Chris Webber, Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Aloysius Miller (for some reason, whenever I speak of Reggie Miller I like using his full name), Nate Robinson and Lisa Leslie.  On the non-athletic side Howery, who was so good as the TSA employed pal in “Get Out,” continues his good performance streak here.

But the film is about more than basketball.  It’s about family and friendship, and when those values are discussed the film jumps to another level.  And basketball fans in the know will enjoy the humor (C. Webb’s character is reminded often that there are no “time outs” left, Shaq gets to call a fellow teammate that hogs the ball “Kobe”).  What I found funniest was that, even though past great players like Michael Jordan are referred to often, there is not one mention of Irving’s former teammate, Lebron James.  An error of omission or a quiet dig?  Either way, it’s funny.

Film Review “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 56 mins
Warner Bros.

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

As a young boy growing up in the 1960s I learned very quickly that the Catholic school system frowned on popular culture. Two times during my second grade year I was sent to the office. The first time came after I was scolded several times for playing the tambourine in music class off of my hip, like Davy Jones did on “The Monkees.” The second was when I held my pen to my mouth and commanded in a loud voice, “Open Channel D,” just like Napoleon Solo did each week on “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Of course, I should have known better. As Whoopi Goldberg pointed out in “Ghost,” nuns can’t even buy underwear so why should they have a sense of humor?

It’s the start of the Cold War. An evil villain has obtained the ability to make an atom bomb. In an unprecedented move, the C.I.A. and the KGB agree to team up their two best agents: Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin. Like the relationship between their respective countries, the two are wary of each other. But orders are orders.

A straight-forward action film that owes its look to James Bond (“Bond” creator Ian Fleming actually helped create the original television program, which was initially titled “Ian Fleming’s SOLO), Matt Helms and a plethora of spy films that came before it, “U.N.C.L.E.” works thanks to its cast and the steady hand of director Guy Ritchie. Englishman Cavill is spot on as Solo, so much so that I’m sure somewhere Robert Vaughn is smiling. Hammer is equally enjoyable as the easily-angered Russian. Hammer was pretty much lost in the crowd in the box-office fiasco that was “The Lone Ranger” and it’s nice to see him inhabit a character completely and confidently.

The set pieces are beautifully photographed and the action unfolds smoothly. If you’re expecting the kinetic editing tricks Ritchie used in the “Sherlock Holmes” films, prepare to be surprised. Long-time fans of the series may quibble a bit with the back-story given Solo. They may also be a step or two ahead of the script when Hugh Grant is introduced as Mr. Waverly. That being said, neither of those facts kept this fan from enjoying the film immensely.


Related Content

DVD Review “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season”

Actors: Robert Vaughn, David McCallum
Number of discs: 11
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
Run Time: 1560 minutes

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

To celebrate the release of the new reboot hitting theaters this August, Warners is releasing the original 1960’s series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” on DVD in The Complete First Season. This release includes all 29 episodes. Even though this international spy spoof show was released over 60 years ago, it still has its charm and is a blast to watch. The series was nominated for 7 Emmy Awards over its four seasons.  If you are looking to catch up before you head to the theaters, this is a great way to get introduced or refreshed on the series that inspired the upcoming movie.

Official Premise: In this hit spoof of the spy genre, actors Robert Vaughn and David McCallum play the roles of top agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin who use their charm, wit, and a never-ending assortment of gadgets to defend the world from evil, chaos and bad taste. The successful series also stars Leo G. Carroll as Alexander Waverly and features guest stars such as William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, of Star Trek, Kurt Russell, Ricardo Montalban and longtime comedy favorite Ken Murray. From trying to save the world from fear gas to trying to save themselves from a pack of bloodthirsty cheetahs, these serious spies bring the suspense and fun to life. You may even forget it’s in black and white!

“The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season” is just the beginning. I would expect the following three seasons to be released probably by the end of year or early next year. These episodes have been digitally remastered and look great. Personally, I would have loved an upgrade to Blu-ray but this is a good release. There are also some special features included. There is a featurette called “The Cloak and Swagger Affair: The Untold History of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”. There is the original pilot shown in color “Solo”. Lastly there is a bonus feature called “U.N.C.L.E. V.I.P.S: A Celebration of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Guest Stars”, of which there were MANY!.

Episode List:
1. The Vulcan Affair
2. The Iowa-Scuba Affair
3. The Quadripartite Affair
4. The Shark Affair
5. The Deadly Games Affair
6. The Green Opal Affair
7. The Giuoco Piano Affair
8. The Double Affair
9. The Project Strigas Affair
10. The Finny Foot Affair
11. The Neptune Affair
12. The Dove Affair
13. The King of Knaves Affair
14. The Terbuf Affair
15. The Deadly Decoy Affair
16. The Fiddlesticks Affair
17. The Yellow Scarf Affair
18. The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair
19. The Secret Sceptre Affair
20. The Bow-Wow Affair
21. The Four-Steps Affair
22. The See-Paris-And-Die Affair
23. The Brain-Killer Affair
24. The Hong Kong Shilling Affair
25. The Never-Never Affair
26. The Love Affair
27. The Gazebo in the Maze Affair
28. The Girls of Nazarene Affair
29. The Odd Man Affair

Win Passes to the Kansas City IMAX Premiere of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” [ENDED]

Media Mikes has teamed up with Warner Bros. to give (25) readers and a guest a chance to be among the first in Kansas City to see the new film “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” in IMAX on Thursday, August 6, 2015.

The screening will be held at the AMC Barrywoods 24 theatre and will begain at 7:30 p.m.

All you have to do is go to and register.  The first (25) people to do this will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening.  Passes are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis so don’t delay!


 Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel”) stars as Napoleon Solo opposite Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) as Illya Kuryakin in director Guy Ritchie’s action adventure “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” a fresh take on the hugely popular 1960s television series. Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin.  Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology.  The duo’s only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.

MPAA RATING:               

 PG-13 for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity