'White People Can't Jump' review: A few laughs can't justify a Hulu remake

We have the excellent “White People Can't Jump” available for streaming now on Fubo and Hulu and Roku and Vudu and it wasn't that long ago that you were going, “Those aren't even words.” But those are just a few of the streaming platforms where you can rent or buy Ron Shelton's favorite 1992 playground. It's there to watch!

OG's “WMCJ” was very much a film for its time, and while the humor is a bit old-fashioned, it still plays well because Shelton (“Bull Durham,” “Tin Cup”) is an underdog master of sports comedy, and Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson made for such a good team — with stellar help from Rosie Perez as Harrelson's “Jeopardy!”-loving girlfriend. Still, we're getting the new “White People Can't Jump” on Hulu, because it seems sort of a Law of Hollywood that every pop culture touchstone movie or TV show from the 1980s or 1990s gets rebooted whether we want it or not. . —and while it's a useful, breezy, suave, and occasionally entertaining update, there's hardly a moment when it doesn't feel… unnecessary.

2023's “White Men Can't Jump” is the second remake for director Calmatic this year, following the disastrous “House Party” from last January, and while it's not as clumsy or weird as the bombshell, the screenplay by Kenya Barris (“black-ish” ) and Doug Hall missed some great opportunities, including the decision to have the most dramatic developments of the entire film take place off-screen. (We'll leave that alone so as not to spoil anything.)

‘White Men Can't Jump'

It's a well-made film that celebrates a number of Los Angeles neighborhoods and has the spirit and basic framework of a classic sports movie, complete with the Big Game, but even that climactic scene falls a little flat because the supposedly evil opponent is actually anonymous.

As for our ragged, lovable but downtrodden heroes: Sinqua Walls stars as Kamal Allen, a former high school sensation who saw his dreams disappear in an instant 10 years ago when he attacked jeering fans in the stands, and rapper Jack Harlow's Jeremy, who starred in Gonzaga and might have been bound for the pros had he not taken to his knees. These days, Kamal's basketball activities amount to a game of pick-up in his old high school gym while he works full-time as a delivery driver for a company like UPS, while Jeremy runs around dressed like a bedraggled surfer as he coaches kids. . player and tries to peddle its dubious recovery products, for example, 30 day detox program drinks which may or may not work.

After Jeremy rushes Kamal in a shootout and Kamal finds himself in need of cash after his company cuts his shift, Kamal proposes that they team up and start playing playground games to earn cash around town, to raise the funds needed to enter. big two-on-two competition. (The whole “White People Can't Jump” angle is basically lost, because no one really cares that Jeremy is white. Sure, they belittle him a bit, but that's mainly because he looks and talks like an idiot.) Friends-chemistry the film between Walls and Harlow is fine, and the dialogue rarely rises above the level of Jeremy saying, “Why are black people so obsessed with haircuts?” and Kamal replied, “Why don't white people care about them?”


The supporting cast is actually quite special. Laura Harrier gives a scintillating performance as Jeremy's girlfriend Tatiana, a choreographer who has just been offered a job on tour with SZA, while Teyana Taylor steals every scene she takes part in as Kamal's wife, Imani, who works tirelessly. from a makeshift hair salon in her living room, dreaming of running her own salon and being a wonderful wife and mother. The late Lance Reddick also shone in one of his last roles, as Kamal's father, who is a colorful LaVar Ball-esque character who watched over Kamal's career in the past but now fights MS and hopes his son will regain his passion for basketball, and life.

We get some decent but not particularly inventive loop sequences, set to catchy song sounds like “Whoomp! (That's It)” by Tag Team and “Why Can't We Be Friends” by War. There are some moments of respite that are fun, funny, and authentic, for example, Kamal's son's birthday party where Jeremy shows up holding a bottle of Hennessy, which is more amused than offensive to the hosts. Relationships are in jeopardy, friendships are strained to the core—and it's time for the big tournament, where the winner takes home $500,000. I won't say how it plays out, but there is a CHANCE it could all end in one last game.