New to streaming today on Disney+ in the UK (Hulu in the US) is the sports comedy, White Men Can’t Jump. The movie – directed by Calmatic – stars Sinqua Walls, Jack Harlow, and Lance Reddick, and follows two basketball hustlers as they team up to earn money.
In the movie, Kamal Allen is a delivery driver who works hard to provide for his family. Things are ticking along OK, and he’s getting by, but life could be a lot easier.
What doesn’t help Kamal’s situation is that a decade ago, he was on the cusp of greatness when he almost made it into the NBA to become a professional basketball player. However, when things didn’t work out, he was forced to take a regular job to make ends meet, and this was not the life he dreamed of.
But Kamal isn’t the only one struggling – so is Jeremy. Jeremy is an aspiring basketball player, who would also love to be in the big leagues, but at the moment he can barely afford to pay his way.
Realising the two have a great deal in common, Kamal approaches Jeremy about a short-term partnership which could benefit them both. He wants to enter a two-on-two basketball tournament, with a prize of $25,000, but he needs Jeremy’s help to do it.
After Jeremy agrees to the proposal, the pair set out to score some cash to pay for the entry fee. To do this, they begin hustling other players for money, by taking part in games where they pretend Jeremy is a much weaker player in order to win bets.
Film fans and those of a certain age will instantly recognise the title ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ because just over 30 years ago, Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson starred in a movie of the same name. That film – directed by Ron Shelton – was a hit with critics and audiences alike and is still regarded as one of the best sports comedies of all time.
If you’ve not watched it, you must. It is great – and something worthy of anyone’s attention.
On the flipside, I very much doubt that in another 30 years I will be saying the same thing about this 2023 remake, which is not great and feels pretty much dead on arrival. Not only is this latest version of White Men Can’t Jump as bland as unseasoned white rice, it is a significant downgrade on the original in every way possible, and a huge disappointment.
Watching this picture feels like a waste of time and money, and I honestly don’t understand why anyone bothered to invest in this film. No one was calling out for a remake of White Men Can’t Jump – literally no one – so why the heck does this exist?
OK, so I know that answer: It exists because Disney is intent on remaking all its back catalogue of movies so it can add content to its streaming service. But beyond a (bad) corporate decision by people who should know better, there is no artistic motivation behind remakes like this one, and boy, does it show!
The cast do what they can with this version of White Men Can’t Jump, but lead actors Sinqua Walls and Jack Harlow lack the star power or charisma that made the Snipes and Harrelson team-up so good. The original film sizzled because of the actors involved and without them it pales in comparison.
What is also evident is that without a strong cast to guide the movie, White Men Can’t Jump struggles in the comedy department too. Sure, a few chuckles can be had here and there, largely from the supporting actors, but no one is going to be busting a gut over this film, or even paying that much attention.
If you do manage to stay awake during White Men Can’t Jump, or you see it through to the end, then give yourself a pat on the back. Throughout its 100(ish)-minute runtime, all I wanted to do was switch it off and go watch the original instead.
Incidentally, just to highlight how pointless this whole movie is, the original version of White Men Can’t Jump is readily available on Disney+ – it’s right there alongside the new one. In fact, when you search for the 2023 movie, the original pops up first, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the pecking order of these films.
In slight defence of this new White Men Can’t Jump, the film does have a couple of decent scenes with late actor, Lance Reddick, who plays Kamal’s father, and in light of his recent passing these sequences feel rather poignant. Reddick was a great actor, and even though he has little to do here, he adds a bit of weight to the picture and this doesn’t go unnoticed.
The movie also benefits from the two central characters being down on their luck financially, as this in turn taps into the current financial woes we are all experiencing right now. If nothing else, White Men Can’t Jump feels somewhat timely, even if this is for unfortunate reasons, and it does give the movie a bit of relevance.
However, despite these occasional bright spots, this movie is largely very dull. It works fine enough as a basketball film, and it is competently put together with decent cinematography from Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, but there really is nothing here to latch on to.
Streaming services are going through a bumpy time at the moment, with all of them (including Disney) haemorrhaging money at every turn and cutting costs as a result. While streaming might be the future, the current model of filling these services with pointless content is not the way forward, and neither is endlessly remaking movies which don’t need to be remade.
Subscribers have made this clear by cancelling subscriptions, and I really hope the big studios take note. No one needs to see another remake of White Men Can’t Jump, nor do they require 57 versions of Home Alone etc, so please give us something original.
And if you can’t continually give us new ideas (because there is only so much money to go round), then get us all re-invested in the older titles. Remind us why we liked White Men Can’t Jump in the first place, by getting us watching the original, rather than wasting our time with this rubbish.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.
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