White Men Can't Jump: What do critics think of the remake?

Sinqua Walls and Jack Harlow star in the Disney+ film... but is it any good?

Jack Harlow and Shinqua Walls in White Men Can't Jump (20th Century Studios)
Jack Harlow and Shinqua Walls in White Men Can't Jump (20th Century Studios)

In 1992, Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes and Rosie Perez led a fun, fast-paced basketball film called White Men Can't Jump, and it has become one of the many films to get the reboot treatment.

Nostalgia drives a lot of creative decisions in Hollywood these days, meaning that everything that could get remade is a contender for a new film updated for modern audiences.

The 2023 edition of White Men Can't Jump is helmed by Calmatic, his second remake this year (after House Party), and it landed on Hulu in the US and Disney+ internationally on Friday, 19 May.

Read more: Jack Harlow Enjoys The Freedom Of Acting (Vibe, 2-min read).

In anticipation of the film's release, critics have shared their thoughts on the remake and whether it is worth watching. Here is everything that they've said.

What did critics think of White Men Can't Jump?

Jack Harlow and Shinqua Walls in White Men Can't Jump (20th Century Studios)
Shinqua Walls and Jack Harlow in White Men Can't Jump (20th Century Studios)

The modern take of White Men Can't Jump stars Sinqua Walls and Jack Harlow as Kamal and Jeremy, respectively. The characters previously portrayed by Snipes and Harrelson in the 1992 version.

Much like the original, the film sees basketball players Kamal and Jeremy decide to team up and hustle games as a way of making money. Despite the similarities, though, critics seemed keen to point out that the new version is unable to capture the same magic.

The New York Times said of the new film: "This version has little quirk and less spark. While Harlow is a game and capable comedic performer up to a point — he demonstrated as much when he hosted Saturday Night Live last year — he doesn’t have Harrelson’s near-anarchic unpredictability.

"And Walls, while appealing, can’t get within striking distance of Snipes’ intensity."

Read more: The wild true story behind Woody Harrelson's White House Plumbers

The Hollywood Reporter similarly pointed out how Walls and Harlow just aren't able to live up to their predecessors, sharing: "Very little in this version makes as much of an impression as the first film.

"Any version of White Men Can’t Jump depends on the chemistry of the two leads (although Rosie Perez also contributed mightily to the ’92 film), and while Walls and Harlow do perfectly credible work, they’re hard-pressed to live up to their predecessors."

Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson Film: White Men Can'T Jump (1992) Characters: Sidney Deane,Billy Hoyle  Director: Ron Shelton 27 March 1992   **WARNING** This Photograph is for editorial use only and is the copyright of 20 CENTURY FOX and/or the Photographer assigned by the Film or Production Company and can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above Film. A Mandatory Credit To 20 CENTURY FOX is required. The Photographer should also be credited when known. No commercial use can be granted without written authority from the Film Company.
Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson in White Men Can't Jump (20th Century Fox).

In their review, Variety explained that the film played things too safe by not offering anything new to a film that was already a classic in its own right.

They wrote: "Updated only in its excess of contemporary slang and overwrought backstories, White Men Can’t Jump exemplifies the aversion to risk and lack of imagination in storytellers mining intellectual property at the behest of blandest-common-denominator-seeking corporate overlords."

AP News had some harsh words to describe the sports drama, saying: "This limp, half-hearted, breezy remake makes some modest improvements.

"The film, directed by Calmatic, bounces to a hip-hop beat and the gameplay action is smoother. But the drop off in personality from that original trio is like going from the Lakers to the G-League."

Watch the trailer for White Men Can't Jump

On a similar note, the Guardian expressed that it seemed unnecessary to do the remake because it just doesn't work as well as the original. They wrote: "White Men Can’t Jump didn’t miss the first time, and it continues to resonate like a Shaquille O’Neal alley-oop. The reboot, a basic nostalgia play, shouldn’t scam anyone."

IndieWire had a more balanced perspective on the remake, commending it for what worked even if there were aspects that didn't: "It’s funny in fits and starts (Kamal’s wacky cousins, played by Vince Staples and Myles Bullock, are consistently amusing), clever enough about the way we talk about race among friends, and comforting in its predictability.

"But that overwrought, overwritten script and leaden pacing throughout its first two acts weighs everything down."

White Men Can't Jump is available on Disney+ now in the UK and internationally, and in the US it has been released on Hulu.