Review: This ‘White Men Can’t Jump,’ with Jack Harlow, has no game

Nineties nostalgia has prolonged now to 1992′s “White Men Can’t Jump” returning to the blacktop courts the place Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson hustled and Rosie Perez studied “Jeopardy!” solutions for meals starting with the letter “Q.”

Why, you ask? The principal cause appears to be giving Jack Harlow, a charismatic, fast-rising white rapper making his appearing debut, a automobile for his laid-back appeal.

The unique “White Men Can’t Jump” thrived on Harrelson’s goofball power and the “You can’t hear Jimmy” trash speak of Snipes, a criminally underrated comedian actor (see “Dolemite Is My Name”). The contributions of Perez, a hooped-earrings firecracker who makes any film just a little higher, shouldn’t be minimized, both. “White Men Can’t Jump,” the uncommon sports activities film the place the lady (Perez) walks out on the man (Harrelson), hinged totally on its off-court drama.

This limp, half-hearted, breezy remake makes some modest enhancements. The movie, directed by Calmatic, bounces to a hip-hop beat and the gameplay motion is smoother. But the drop off in character from that unique trio is like going from the Lakers to the G-League.

Sinqua Walls stars as Kamal, a as soon as extremely touted prospect whose skilled profession derailed in a rage-fueled incident the movie slowly reveals by means of flashbacks. (The late Lance Reddick performs Kamal’s father in one in every of his final performances.) He’s now struggling by means of a job delivering packages whereas clients typically ridicule him for a way low he’s fallen. His girlfriend, Imani (Teyana Taylor), although, lovingly helps him.

One day on the health club, Jeremy (Harlow) makes a loud entrance, dressed like, as one character later says, a Sierra Mist can. Kamal’s good friend Speedy (Vince Staples) notices him and says, “They let yoga instructors into the gym now?” Jeremy, a former participant at NCAA powerhouse Gonzaga now hobbled by knee ache, is there to hustle video games and promote some detox drinks.

Harlow’s character is brash, as Harrelson’s was, however he’s sweeter. His trash speak is earnest. He meditates. The joke isn’t that he’s racially out of contact, it’s that he’s virtually too delicate.

Mostly, he’s a chatty, charming nuisance that Kamal reluctantly turns to as an on-court companion with hopes of a giant money prize in a three-on-three match. Jeremy, in the meantime, has a girlfriend, Tatiana (Laura Harrier), who’s urgent him to develop up and discover a actual job.

Calmatic labored in music movies (Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”) earlier than making his directorial debut earlier this 12 months with a reboot of 1990’s “House Party.”

And he movies “White Men Can’t Jump” with a polish that takes out among the asphalt grit that the film wants. If the unique resided on the blacktop, as any pick-up basketball film ought to, this remake curiously favors indoor hoops. Last 12 months’s surprisingly good basketball film, “Hustle,” with Adam Sandler, had the feel the sport deserves.

Walls holds his personal in “White Men Can’t Jump” and Harlow has a simple appeal. His debut pales subsequent to these of rappers like Ice Cube, Mos Def and Tupac Shakur. It’s asking an excessive amount of, although, for him to produce a lot of the comedy right here. The jokes, too, are timid. How is it potential that in right this moment’s fraught America, the most important debate Jeremy and Kamal get into is over whether or not Spike Lee or Paul Thomas Anderson is the higher filmmaker?

There are just a few recommendations that betting on pick-up basketball won’t be the hustle it as soon as was. Try crypto, one character suggests. Another says it’s clear now that white gamers can ball. I’m unsure it’s so totally different than in 1992, when Chris Mullin and John Stockton had been within the league. Now there’s Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic and Tyler Herro, who makes a cameo. No point out is made from the latest NBA dunk champ, the 6’2” Mac McClung, however an older winner of that contest, Blake Griffin, is an govt producer.

But one factor shouldn’t have modified. This “White Men Can’t Jump” by no means offers its girlfriend characters a lot to do. They principally recede because the on-court exploits take over, thus ignoring Perez’s smart phrases from the unique: “Always listen to the women.”

“White Men Can’t Jump,” a twentieth Century Studios launch, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association for pervasive language and a few drug materials. Running time: 101 minutes. One and a half stars out of 4.


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