‘White Men Can’t Jump’ (2023) Review: “A Pleasant Surprise”
In 1992, Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson starred in one of the best cult classics ever made, White Men Can’t Jump. The film was about two guys using basketball as a hustle to live the lives they wanted. One was a good street hooper, and the other was an ex-college player that would pretend like he couldn’t play ball but was actually amazing. In 2023, 20th Century Studios remade that film, and I will admit at first I was skeptical, but White Men Can’t Jump is actually a really good film. This straight-to-streaming movie is one of the better remakes we’ve had over the last five years.
White Men Can’t Jump ’23 basically has the same plot with a few twists and turns. Kamal (Sinqua Walls) is an ex-athlete who ruined his basketball career in high school as the #1 prospect, and Jeremy (Jack Harlow) is a “health” guru who used to play basketball at one of the best colleges in the nation. The two start off on rocky terms after Jeremy hustles Kamal, but then they come up with a plan that will jumpstart the lives they want to live: win the grand prize money at the Leimert Park basketball tournament.
They want to take care of the women in their lives, Imani (Teyana Taylor) and Tatiana (Laura Harrier). Kamal also has a son. The two men hustle to get the cash to enter a basketball tournament they feel will change their lives completely. The side plots are also very interesting. Imani wants to open a beauty shop, and Tatiana is a ballet dancer who wants to do choreography for big artists. The way these are worked into the film is graceful and helps balance everything that makes it good.
Calmatic, who directed the House Party reboot, also directed White Men Can’t Jump. As much as I didn’t like House Party, White Men Can’t Jump proves he’s a good filmmaker. All he needs is a decent story, a strong cast, and room to work. It seems like he had very little interjection from executives and was able to make the film he wanted. There are some cameos and things of that nature, but it isn’t so corporate-heavy, and that matters. Letting your directors do what they please and not interfering is usually good for a film.
The writing from Kenya Barris and Doug Hall is more than important. While he still does the biracial/white guy bit, it’s supposed to be here. This is White Men Can’t Jump, after all, so a lot of what he normally does works for this movie. Except, he doesn’t do his normal style of writing and storytelling. Now this could be the usage of Doug Hall, but he also could be doing something new. Either way, the writing, and storytelling is solid. The character development in White Men Can’t Jump is one of the better developments I’ve seen lately.
The cast is what makes this film, hands down. Harlow, Walls, Taylor, and Harrier all do wonders. Lance Reddick and Vince Staples also add to the charisma that this cast exudes. We know Reddick is a great actor, but Staples proves that he’s hilarious. If you listen to his music, read his tweets, and watch his interviews you already knew he was funny. He’s also been in Abbott Elementary and Dope, his acting chops are good and he’s one of the better parts of the film. Harlow can also surprisingly act, the two rappers no matter how big or small their parts are in this film prove they deserve to be onscreen.
We often hear people say that remakes shouldn’t be made, but I disagree. Remakes have been made since the 70s and 80s, we may be seeing them in more volume now, but it doesn’t diminish the original by any means. White Men Can’t Jump kind of fuses nostalgia with modern times. Is it predictable? In some ways, but overall it’s a film that just may be on par with its predecessor. Calmatic has put together a film that deserved to be in theaters. – Rascal F. Kennedy
White Men Can’t Jump releases on Hulu tomorrow!
Did you like this article? If so, consider visiting our YouTube channel, where we discuss the latest and greatest in pop culture news.