White Men Can’t Jump

The black Kamal and the white Jeremy are both failed promises of American basketball: the former, the son of an NBA star, threw his career away due to his incendiary character and now works as a salesman and struggles to make ends meet with his wife and son; the second, who retired due to endless knee problems, works as a motivator and nutritionist for young basketball players and has promised his girlfriend not to play anymore. First enemies, then partners and finally friends, the two will resume beating the street basketball courts in two-on-two tournaments, dreaming of winning the prize money of an official tournament to sort out their respective lives and above all allow Kamal to return to the levels that his talent deserves.
The remake of White Men Who Can’t Jump, directed in 1992 by Ron Shelton, adapts situations and dialogues of the time (these were the years of the Los Angeles riots after the violence against Rodney King) to the new forms of racism and political correctness of American culture .
It was immediately recognized that the charisma of the film’s new performers, Sinqua Walls in the part of Kamal and the rapper making his debut in cinema Jack Harlow in that of Jeremy, does not equal that of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson (the former in absolute rise after Jungle Fever, the second at the beginning of a career that still continues at the highest levels), it must be said that this new version of a 90s cult – in itself not a masterpiece, although capable of capturing the stereotypes of clich├ęs and racial discourse at the basis of American pop culture – it doesn’t look too bad either.
The choice to use the same screenwriters Kenya Barris and Doug Hall has in fact kept the tone of the especially linguistic dispute between the two protagonists high, taking up the sharp irony that the two players pour on each other starting from the stereotypes about their respective origins (the good black only to play basketball, the white man genetically incapable of playing basketball…) and avoiding the film from getting stuck in the didacticism typical of the average platform product (here Disney+).
This new White Men Can’t Jump (with original title, the horrendous Italian adaptation has been archived) also delves into the ever-present conflicts of American society, but in a climate of more diluted and less incendiary tension, it prefers to linger in retromania, with jokes that hark back to the early ’90s (Jungle Fever, to be precise), or continually cite sporting or entertainment phenomena (the use of acronyms and nicknames for NBA champions is the stuff of initiates, just as, perhaps , the clash between Jeremy who loves PT Anderson and Kamal who only thinks of Spike Lee).
More than the exhibited wit of quotes and references, what makes the film overall solid is precisely the choice to focus on dialogues to give rhythm and energy to the story, managing the linguistic challenge between black and white (the former convinced that the basketball is the prerogative of its people, the second arrogant and selfish, both wounded in their own way by life, in spirit and body) on a par with sports.

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