Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes were two of the biggest stars on the small and big screens in the 90’s. Harrelson was the breakout fav on the hit NBC sitcom “Cheers” while Snipes was making a name for himself in hit films like Spike Lee’s “Mo Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever” and his iconic role as Nino Brown in the cult classic “New Jack City” when White Men Can’t Jump hit box offices grossing 91 million globally.
Now, “Space Jam” director Calmatic has rebooted the franchise with a fresh spin for the 21st century with today’s big name Sinqua Walls and Grammy winner Jack Harlow. I’m not gonna lie. After seeing Calmatic’s efforts with the “House Party” reboot, I was less than thrilled about another remake of one of my 90’s fav films. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
In this iteration for 20th Century Studios, Kenya Barris has added his razor sharp, hilarious dialogue to push the plot. What’s the same? Its’ still two ballers, opposites in every way, finding they might have more in common than they ever imagined possible as they team up to taking top prize at a neighborhood basketball tournament. There’s still a mixed race relationship with Harlow (Jeremy) and Laura Harrier (Tatianna), Kamal is married to Teyanna Taylor (Imani) and the guys are still running game with unsuspecting victims on the court.
The difference this time around is Kamal,is often seen as an angry black man being saved on the court bya yoga pant wearing, opiate pill popping, meditative white boy whose life is far from perfect. Although the women are mostly window dressing in this film (much like in the original), I wish more time had been spent giving a real sense as to why these women are so incensed by their dudes wanting to play ball for money. We only get a glimpse of this through Tatianna as it is slowly revealed that Jeremy has been less than honest about his aspirations while half heartedly supporting her dreams and successes in the dance world.
What I will say is that the soundtrack is fire, the locations were mostly identical from the original films (which was fun to watch) and seeing the late Lance Reddick once more time made me miss his talent even more.
Sinqua Walls and Jack Harlow are great together, but lack the incredible chemistry of Harrelson and Snipes. Having said that, they are still very entertaining, especially Harlow during his court trash talking scenes. However, it is the trash talking, scene stealing of Myles Bullock and Vince Staples that will leave you howling in the aisles.
Having said all of that, I found while White Men Can’t Jump 2.0 is hilarious, it doesn’t quite strike lightning like the original, but still equals to a fun evening with the fam kicking off the summer box office.