Time is a valuable commodity, and one that shouldn’t be wasted on novelties White Men Can’t Jump. The 2023 remake of the legendary sports comedy is the incredible achievement of removing nearly every positive element from its source material and finding a way to make every wrong decision en route to a sad facsimile of something great.
1992 White Men Can’t Jump is an important look at attitude, swagger, and streetball culture—meeted with the struggles of early 90s urban life. It works because of the dichotomy of Sidney (Wesley Snipes) and Billy (Woody Harrelson), two streetball hustlers who team up and learn from each other in the process.
This new version of the film completely flips the two characters. Kamal (Sinqua Wells) is a former high school phenom who garnered gigantic hype, only to close out his senior year and never reach his potential. Meanwhile, Jeremy (Jack Harlow) is a former Gonzaga player whose career has slumped due to injury. Jeremy now exists by training basketball players, selling detox drinks at the gym, and is determined to take supplements in hopes of returning to playing football.
The core concept is there, rushing to make money playing ball and entering street tournaments—but there’s no struggle or stakes. This is based solely on the conceit that Kamal hates working as a delivery driver, and Jeremy wants to make enough money so his girlfriend Tatiana (Laura Harrier), who is a dancer, doesn’t have to continue doing lousy work instead of becoming an artist. .
It’s also worth noting that while the 1992 film actually had a third lead in Gloria (Rosie Perez), her character was completely wiped out in the 2023 version – replaced by Tatiana, who is the best performer. In fact, both of the female characters in the film miserably fail the Bechdel Test, and even so, that’s not even the biggest problem with the film.
This 2023 version White Men Can’t JumpReally, Really want to remind you that Jack Harlow is white. It does this at every turn, with some of the saddest jokes and jokes that aren’t exactly funny. This includes:
- Carrying her gear in an NPR tote bag… GET IT, BECAUSE HE’S WHITE?!
- Jeremy says Luka Doncic is the best player in the NBA and when people accept that “it will help race relations in this country.”
- Brought a bottle of Hennessey to a six year old’s birthday party… USE IT, BECAUSE THEY’RE BLACK?!
- Jeremy teaches Kamal meditation as if it were a hidden talent… GET IT, BECAUSE JEREMY IS WHITE AND KAMAL IS BLACK?!
- When it turns out that Jeremy is good at basketball, a background character quips “this is gentrification”… WEAR IT, BECAUSE HE’S WHITE?!
As bad as that sounds, I promise in practice it’s worse than you can imagine.
All of this isn’t helped by the fact that Harlow can’t act at all, and whenever he does appear on screen it seems like they’re receiving the only decent take he’s given them – because his delivery is so awkward and stilted I refuse to believe anything more. Good. one is on the cutting room floor.
We’re left with a soulless, charmless, classic regurgitation made for streaming. The writing is trashy and self-conscious, the acting is tolerable and dragged lower by Harlow, and a desperate attempt by the filmmakers to try to reinvent the story for 2023 leaves it flat and hollow.
There really is a way to recreate it White Men Can’t Jump and make it interesting – but it’s not.
White Men Can’t Jump is streaming on Hulu. Don’t punish yourself by watching it.