Thursday, May 18, 2023

Phil on Film: 'White Men Can't Jump' (2023)

The best thing a remake of an overlooked film can do is draw attention to the original.

A remake of the 1992 Ron Shelton-directed sports comedy, which starred Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, the Hulu-exclusive takes the bones of the original, updates the humor and basketball moves and rolls the ball onto the court.

The result is a mixed bag, with a C-level cast and some plot points and character motivations that don't register.

Sinqua Walls plays Kamal, a flamed-out hoops phenom who angrily works a job as a UPS driver. He partners with Jeremy (Jack Harlow), a former Gonzaga star who tore both ACLs and hopes to recover enough to get his career going again.

Kamal and Jeremy both need money, so they team up to start a street ball hustle, with the eventual goal of starring in an -- oddly -- three-on-three tournament that could net them big dollars.

Jeremy's situation is hard to fathom, because he reasons that he needs to save up funds for an experimental treatment for his injury, yet is so good on the court that it's unclear why he needs the surgery at all. 

As with the original, the best moments come on the court and in trash-talking exchanges. While the film's perspective is understandably updated for the modern age, there are still plenty of charming jabs that make their way through.

If you can set the insipid story aside and enjoy the movie's better moments for what they are, you'll have enough fun to make your way through to the insipid, if oddly satisfying, conclusion.

Otherwise, you may be better off bailing out and finding the 1992 film, enjoying it for its unsanitized charm.

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