These days, there are as many basketball movies as there are memes about the league. So much so, they’ve even started remaking some of the classics. Add Ron Shelton’s 1992 street-ball classic ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ starring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson and Rosie Perez to the roster of films that don’t need a remake like ‘E.T.’, or ‘The Goonies’. Yet, here we are.
Hulu’s new feature that you can stream on the new hoops home of Disney + is no sequel like ‘The New Legacy’ of ‘Space Jam’. Sadly, you also won’t find the original stars holding court, although there are a few cameos and nice nods to current day basketball stars. The bricks stop there, though, as the new ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ banks in building its own legend.
Pulling punches with some of its jabs, the 2023 remake doesn’t overdo the race thing, and it also doesn’t copy the outstanding original, move for move. Instead, it paints a nice aesthetic in hardwood homage as we are taken back to the same Venice Beach courts that Woody and Wesley balled out in. Hustling suckers for their spare change like they did with the lights, camera, action of their ‘Money Train’ movie.
It’s hard to find a duo so dynamic, but for every Jordan and Pippen, there’s a Shaq and Kobe. ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘American Soul’ actor Sinqua Walls takes the lead as a promising player who was about to go pro before he went all Ron Artest on fans in the stands. Think of John Stamos’ chair throwing coach in Disney’s ‘Big Shot’. Sinqua has dreams of the big leagues, like ‘The Crossover’, but can’t dribble around the walls he’s putting up.
The white man who can’t jump? That would be the one who can rap, in mic superstar of the moment, Jack Harlow. ‘What’s Poppin” with the ‘That’s What They All Say’ hit maker? Harlow has played on the hallowed floors of enough all-star games to prove he’s got game, but can he act?
His college prospect turned nutritionist and coach character brings a more plant-based Woody vibe (not those plants) to the proceedings. A sensitive soul of positivity and peace that is a refreshing spin-move down the floor that finds its own lane.
Support off the bench comes from ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘BlacKkKlansmann’ star Laura Harrier and singer, actor and dancer Teyana Taylor, who knows all about standing by your man in the area, as her VH1 reality show with basketball husband Iman Shumpert can attest.
Rapper/actor Vince Staples brings even more star power and clout to this picture. Running the play-book is ‘Black-ish’ creator Kenya Barris with the screenplay assisted by Doug Hall.
A touching tribute is also on hand for the late, great Lance Reddick. We lost ‘The Wire’ and ‘John Wick’ franchise favourite this past March, and this is one of his final performances.
How profound and powerful it is too as Lance plays the father of Walls’ character with words of wisdom. His last ones will really stay with you, even if rumour has it that another sweet scene didn’t make the cut. Rest in peace to an actor who always gave his all.
The action on the concrete courts is tough, the acting strong, and the songs? You know a soundtrack like this will always score. Director Calmatic’s cinematic remake of a classic may not hit those bar-setting heights, but it can still jump. Above the rim, you know who’s dunking on who, though. For the first time in playground history, the FIRST basket wins.