White Men Can’t Jump (1992)


Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) is a white man who deceives black basketball players that he is an easy opponent, so he enters into bets with them, and one of his victims is Sidney Dean (Wesley Snipes), a local player with a long tongue. Sidney then becomes something of an agent for Hoyle and organizes similar scams around town to make some quick cash together. Sidney is raising money to move his family out of a shared apartment. They were in similar problems, because debt collectors are breathing down his neck, and next to him is his girlfriend Gloria (Rosie Perez), who is preparing to participate in the Jeopardy quiz…

This is the type of movie where you can easily identify the obvious flaws, but which has enough energy and appeal to be entertaining despite all the flaws. This especially applies to viewers who are comfortable with this type of film, set in the nineties and full of black culture, and who love basketball. On the other hand, such viewers will wish there was more basketball action and less scenes with female characters, because this is definitely a movie for boys.

Outside of the basketball goings-on, there isn’t much going on in the classic sense, except that Billy loses his hard earned money all too often. The script deals with the relationships of our protagonists with their better halves, but that segment somehow goes in a direction it shouldn’t have, which everyone who expected a pure basketball movie will agree with. The same ideas and philosophies are constantly repeated and I believe that someone who does not follow basketball will find it all very boring. I didn’t have a problem until the final third of the film, when Gloria, unprovoked, becomes practically an equal character to Billy and Sidney.

Billy has a philosophy that it’s more important for black players to look good and lose than to look bad and win, while white players are the complete opposite and don’t mind how they look as long as they win. White Men Can’t Jump shows us that philosophies don’t matter so much, because neither Billy nor Sidney get what they want – life won’t go the way we want if we make the wrong decisions, no matter how they look. This is not true if you are lucky, but it is known that it rarely lasts forever. Most of the film is about the everyday problems of our characters and their search for happiness, but it will turn out that the problems and the search are not the main point of the film, which can be concluded – listen to your wife.

One of the most important prerequisites for a positive impression is Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, who are almost perfect together and create a wonderful, witty, fun, antagonistic friendship. For them, basketball is far from a game because the stakes are still too high. Their basketball scenes are very well shot and beautifully represent the energy of fast street basketball. As someone who enjoys this game, I especially liked the slow motion scenes of the ball or player movement. Although her character somehow does not belong in this kind of film, I liked the performance and appearance of the endlessly likable Rosie Perez.