“White Men Can’t Jump” is a redo of a movie from 1992 that starred Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes. If you haven’t yet heard, it also has the same title. Why it was necessary to construct a remake of this particular film is anyone’s guess.
Still, it was alright, so it wasn’t a terrible idea. After watching, however different, this was on the same level as the first. Buddy movies that work well are entertaining, but sometimes we should just leave well enough alone.
Kamal, Sinqua Walls from Friday Night Lights, who played some ball in college in real life, was on his way to play professionally right out of high school. He was a big deal in school, but he had a bad game and let some rowdy fans get to him. Kamal didn’t take it well and went on the defensive with the people in the stands. After that episode, chants of “Overrated” became an anthem he heard every time he stepped on a court.
Director Calmatic took a chance on Jack Harlow, primarily a composer, playing the Woody Harrelson role. His character’s name is Jeremy, who hurt his knee, unable to take his game to the professional level he dreamt of. Calmatic wanted to see if Harlow had true acting ability he needed for the role, outside of starring in music videos with people such as LilNas X and Drake.
Harlow was also in a New Balance commercial with an NBA star, so surely, he can handle this film. What’s obvious after watching this is that we’ll be seeing more of him and Sinqua Walls. Kamal doesn’t think Jeremy has what it takes to beat him, but he is defeated by Jeremy. Jeremy tells Kalam that people always underestimate his talent… based on his color. He knew Kamal would think he couldn’t shoot. Jeremy says, “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion; you sink to the level of training.”
They become fast friends, immediately the best of buddies. Calmatic has us rooting for them, even though what they end up doing isn’t exactly above board. What I mean by that is they both need some spending money and decide that they’re good enough to hustle some rude and unruly jerks who believe they’re God’s gift to basketball out of their cash. When they see that Kamal is playing with a white boy, they’re more than willing to depart with cash, confident they’ll win it back and leave with more. Jeremy and Kamal prove them wrong. Jeremy talks smack, making everyone want to beat him even more. This gets their opponents concentrating less on their game.
The belief in meditation, cleansing, and a detox program that Jeremy lives by was an excellent way to build on their relationship. Kamal makes fun of him for it at first, but toward the end of the film, it’s part of Kamal’s daily routine.
When they’re in a tournament for a 500,000 prize, something happens that brings Kamal and his father Benji, played by the outstanding actor Lance Reddick who left us far too soon, into a moment of bonding.
Benji apologizes for never giving his son the tools he needed to handle his problems and says that Jeremy deserved to have the “joyful you.”
What would have been nice to see was Snipes and Harrelson on a court somewhere, still at it. I didn’t see the original, so there may have been a plot reason this didn’t happen. However, I have been told this story differs significantly from the Snipes/Harrelson movie.
One of the executive producers, basketball great Blake Griffin, makes an appearance in one of the film’s final scenes.
*This movie was made right before his death and dedicated to Lance Reddick.
White Men Can’t Jump
Writer: Kenya Barris, Doug Hall
Starring: Sinqua Walls, Jack Harlow, Teyana Taylor, Laura Harrier, Vince Staples, Myles Bullock and Lance Reddick
Producer: Kenya Barris, Paul Hall
Run Time: 1h 41m
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Sport
Release Date (Streaming): May 19, 2023