Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes in White Men Can't Jump (1992)
Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes in White Men Can't Jump (1992)

White Men Can’t Jump (1992) review & film summary, Where to watch

Title: White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
Director: Ron Shelton
Duration: 1h55m
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez, Tyra Ferrell, Cylk Cozart, Duane Martin

White Men Can’t Jump, as the title suggests, is a film about white men’s inability to jump but it is a film about much more than that. A black film at heart, the role of Billy Hoyle (a proper white boy) is a crucial one and one the whole premise of the film hinges on.

Woody Harrelson is Billy, a dumbass but a hell of a basketball player, perhaps the best in the movie. He has one problem and that is, he is the titular white man who can’t jump. Well, that and the fact that he’s financially irresponsible and addicted to gambling in the worst possible way ever. Besides white boy Billy, though, everything else in the film is black. Even Billy’s girlfriend, Gloria (Rosie Perez) is a sister.

Woody Harrelson did not get to take all the shine in this one though because his role would be nothing and mean nothing if it wasn’t for the character of Sidney Deane, played to perfection by one of the greatest black performers of his time, Wesley Snipes. In White Men Can’t Jump, Snipes plays the role of a young black man who sees his talent in basketball only as a way to hustle and make some bucks for himself and his family. He’s about that life, has a real job, and wants to get out of the trenches. Everything he did, that was his prime motivation.

Billy on the other hand was just a good basketball player with no goals in life, nothing he’s looking forward to, and the only thing he holds dear is his relationship with his girlfriend who he was starting to lose because of his stupidity anyway.

Sidney needed to get his life on track and he knew what to do, while Billy simply did not even know what he was doing with his life. A partnership between the two of them could only bring forth chaos and that was exactly what happened.

white Men Can’t Jump is a 90s movie like no other. A sports drama that manages to highlight what it’s like being a black man in the trenches in the 90s kind of world, as well as what being a white trash with no sense was like.

The unlikely partnership of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson gave life to the film. I mean, who would have thought Nino Brown from New Jack City and Woody Boyd from 80s sitcom Cheers, could ever be a duo? Yet it worked. The two didn’t have much on-screen chemistry but they played their roles and put their all into the characters and that’s what ultimately makes White Men Can’t Jump a classic.

A remake starring Jack Harlow and Sinqua Walls was released earlier this year (2023) but when you remake a classic like that, expectations have to be low. There was not much hype around the remake and it didn’t deserve much either.

Directed by Ron Shelton, White Men Can’t Jump was a huge success at the box office grossing $90.7m globally making it one of the most successful films of 1992.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Letterboxd: 3.5/5
IMDb: 6.8/10

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