White Men Can’t Jump Reboot: Big Basketball Shoes to Fill
In my biased and somber 90’s baby eyes, nothing can surpass the 1992 classic White Men Can’t Jump with Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. While the reboot is a good film and a great attempt at recapturing that 90s hoops nostalgic essence, it doesn’t quite fill the giant basketball shoes left behind by the original Venice Beach flick. That’s okay though, it didn’t necessarily need to, and maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on remakes.
Being a white rapper and actor myself, I’m probably too critical of Jack Harlow’s acting. I do think Sinqua Walls delivered a better performance as Kamal Allen but the pair still have enough chemistry to make their basketball hustling narrative believable. I give Kenya Barris a lot of credit for how up to date the film was for a contemporary audience. The race jokes weren’t as piercing as his previous Netflix original “You People” but they rolled off effortlessly and this film isn’t a political piece as much as its pure sports comedy. I really appreciated the riffing back and forth between the main characters about how everyone knows white guys can play basketball now, it's not a secret, and white guys aren’t just shooters anymore either, lots of fun, very silly.
The producers did a fantastic job with the casting especially with the supporting characters. Teyana Taylor is always fun to see on screen, obviously gorgeous. Andrew Schulz offered some comic relief, rapper Vince Staples playing a homie of Kamal’s, the late Lance Reddick played Kamal’s father in the film, and my personal favorite BallIsLife hooper and professional basketball player Duke Skywalka appeared in the film playing himself! You see Duke face off against Jack Harlow and Sinqua Walls in a tournament for a whole scene and absolutely destroy them, you’ll see Skywalka swat Harlow’s character, as well as hit the double pump 180 dunk.
I enjoyed how the reboot matched some scenes identical with the original like the beginning basketball shootout, the beef, and how they both had that one crazy guy who grabs a gun or in this case of the remake, a flamethrower, insanely hilarious. Another scene I appreciate for how wild it is, was the part where Jack Harlow’s character Jeremy shows up to a birthday party cookout for Kamal’s family bringing a bottle of Hennessy to share as if that isn’t the most stereotypical beverage to arrive at a party with. It then becomes awkward as Teyana Taylor and Sinqua Walls characters let him just explain his thought process into a hole. There’s quite a few scenes like this in the film where Jack Harlow’s character is overcompensating for his whiteness. Again, this is what the film does well and any fan can appreciate these nuances going into a viewing, just keep an open mind and don’t have extreme expectations.
While some of the jokes may have fallen flat, and Harlow’s acting will take some seasons to truly be chiseled to his potential, White Men Can’t Jump is a fun film that any hoops fan and fan of the original should give a chance to. They’ll definitely enjoy it and find some redeeming qualities.