Wednesday Watch: White Men Can’t Jump

Basketball Hoop Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)
Basketball Hoop Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images) /

While NBA action is on hiatus, we’re giving one one weekly suggestion of basketball-related content to keep you entertained. This is Wednesday watch.

We all wish we could be tuning into our regularly scheduled slate of NBA games right now. But these are different and unique times that leave us searching to fill the sports-void with something else to watch. Our suggestion this week helps us get a dose of basketball, gives a little taste of Los Angeles, and will add some much-needed humor to our socially distanced day.

We’re talking about the 1992 ode to LA street-ball (and hustling, and…Jeopardy) White Men Can’t Jump.

The film follows Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson), a former college basketball player making his living as a hustler playing basketball on the streets of Los Angeles. He strikes up an unlikely (and tumultuous) partnership with Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes) after Hoyle bests him on the court helped by the fact Deane underestimates him based on his…appearance (you know what we mean – link NSFW).

Famed critic Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars and wrote “Here is a comedy of great high spirits, with an undercurrent of sadness and sweetness that makes it a lot better than the plot itself could possibly suggest.” Ebert praised writer/director Ron Shelton’s knowledge of the world of LA street-ball and the characters that inhabit it.

It wasn’t just critics that praised the movie. Famed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick even called White Men Can’t Jump one of his favorite films. High praise from the mastermind behind 2001: A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, and other classic films.

The basketball scenes in the movie are entertaining, mostly for their trash-talking and verbal sparring more so than the actual quality of play presented in the film. The chemistry between stars Harrelson and Snipes is strong and helps add a spark to the humor throughout the movie. The pair are certainly believable as frienemies forced to work together through mutual hardships.

Rosie Perez also shines (and “all but steals the movie” according to Ebert) as Hoyle’s girlfriend Gloria, who pushes him to want more out of his life, and has a dream of her own to compete as a contestant on Jeopardy.

The film’s style, language, soundtrack, and vibe will transport you to the days of the early 1990s and maybe even inspire some lively and heated trash-talk the next time you’re able to get out and play pick up (or you can use it for NBA2K for now.) It even has a great restaurant celebration idea for when we’re all allowed outside again.

Keep an eye out for an uncredited appearance by Hall-of-Famer Gary Payton as an unnamed street baller. Former Clippers players Marques Johnson and Freeman Williams have slightly larger roles as street ballers in the film.

Next. Three ways LA Clippers players can kill time during the hiatus. dark

Rumors of a remake of the film from Black-ish creator Kenya Barris (and produced by former Clipper Blake Griffin) were reported in 2017 but at least for now, we’ll have to stick to the original.

White Men Can’t Jump is currently available on various on-demand platforms to rent or buy. Watch it again (or for the first time) and let us know how it helped to fill the NBA-sized hole in your life right now.