Sinqua Walls (left) and Jack Harlow (right) star in the remake of “White Men Can’t Jump” (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox/Hulu).
(“White Men Can’t Jump” trailer courtesy of 20th Century Studios)
R&B group Shalamar once sang that the second time around is always better than the first time.
Well, Hollywood remakes would often prove Howard Hewett, Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniels and “nem” wrong because Hollywood’s recent obsession with remaking classics hardly ever equals the first time around.
“White Men Can’t Jump” starring Sinqua Walls (“Power”) and rapper Jack Harlow definitely is worth viewing at home while the NBA Conference Finals are not on.
But it is difficult for any actors to match the magic created by Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson from the original film from 1992.
Furthermore, very few actresses have the personality of Rosie Perez.
Additionally, the original “White Men Can’t Jump” had so many Quotables like “it’s so pretty” and “we going Sizzler” that the 2023 version could simply not match.
But what the 2023 version of “White Men Can’t Jump” has over the original is that the Hulu version has more heart because many people can relate to one mistake or one case of bad luck ruining one’s dreams forever.
How people react to that hard luck is what makes or breaks a person and determines whether he or she becomes a successful human being.
“White Men Can’t Jump” drops on Hulu at the perfect time.
The NBA held its 2023 draft lottery with the San Antonio Spurs winning the rights to 19-year-old French phenom Victor Wembanyama.
Additionally, the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets are all jostling for a spot in the NBA Finals.
But for all the phenoms like LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant, there are those that never quite lived up to their promise for whatever reason.
In “White Men Can’t Jump,” Kamal (Walls) represents the best that never were like the late Len Bias and Hank Gathers.
But while Bias and Gathers had the most tragic fates, Kamal must live with his bad decisions.
Everywhere he goes, random people on the street recognize the young star, astonished at the negative route that his life actually took.
While many expected NBA glory for Kamal, the cruelties of life have him settling for a job at a delivery service, struggling to pay rent and take care of his son and girlfriend, Imani (Teyana Taylor, “A Thousand and One”).
What’s so tragic about Kamal’s situation is he had everything needed for success as a young person like a committed father in Benji (the late Lance Reddick, “John Wick: Chapter 4”) and a great educational foundation.
But his mistake means that instead of playing at Madison Square Garden, Kamal must settle for pick-up games at his old high school gym.
In “White Men Can’t Jump,” Jeremy (Harlow) is suffering a similar fate.
However, for different reasons.
Jeremy made it to the collegiate ranks, playing for Gonzaga University.
However, severe knee injuries have stopped Jeremy’s dreams dead in its tracks.
While Jeremy’s girlfriend Tatiana (Laura Harrier, “BlacKkKlansman”) has a promising career as a dancer and choreographer, Jeremy still lives in the past.
He makes a few dollars training up-and-coming talent.
But that does not pay the bills.
In fact, Jeremy cannot even pay his membership fees at the gym where he trains young basketball players.
But what Jeremy does not earn training athletes, he can earn hustling athletes like Kamal who stereotype him as a non-hooper because of the color of his skin.
And like the original “White Men Can’t Jump,” the odd couple finds out that they could make a killing if they team up together and hustle unsuspecting ballers.
Furthermore, if Kamal and Jeremy can hustle up enough money, they could possibly compete in a tournament that could generate more money than either man has seen at one time.
While the 2023 version did not recreate the same magic as the original, “White Men Can’t Jump” did try to recreate some of the scenes.
For instance, the Hulu version contains a scene like the classic scene in which former NBA star Marques Johnson threatens players with his other gun that he has stashed in his car.
But in the 2023 version, filmmakers go a little too far when haters unleash a flamethrower on the hustling hoopers.
In the Hulu version, Tatiana straddles Jeremy while he drives much like Gloria (Perez) straddles Billy Hoyle (Harrelson) in the original.
But in defense of the 2023 version of “White Men Can’t Jump,” it has more emotion than the original ever had.
While it was easy to root for Billy, there was not much emotional attachment to him or Sidney Deane (Snipes).
But in the Hulu version, streamers will get to see the true character arc of Kamal.
Furthermore, this version contains a strong depiction of African-American fatherhood.
While Benji initially comes off as a loudmouthed LaVar Ball type, he ends up being his son’s biggest cheerleader and his mouthpiece when speaking to the national press.
But even if his son does not make it to the pros, the pride that Benji has for Kamal will not diminish one bit, which finally alleviates some of the pressure that Kamal has experienced since his high school days.
While Walls and Harlow are not up to par as actors with Snipes and Harrelson yet, they both have enough likability to give this version of “White Men Can’t Jump” a chance.
Just know going in not to compare it to the original.
Or just realize, the first time is actually often better than the second.
“White Men Can’t Jump” is now streaming on Hulu.