Jeopardy on the Basketball Court
Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) arrives in Venice Beach to do some hustling on the court which is exactly what he does to current king of the court Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes). A hustler himself Sidney has a proposition, for the two of them to team up in an upcoming two-on-two competition but spend a couple of weeks hustling up and down the beach before the competition. For Billy he needs the money as he and "Jeopardy" obsessed girlfriend Gloria (Rosie Perez) have some heavies after them for debts whilst Bill's wife is desperate for them to movie to a nice neighbourhood.
Attitude. Attitude. Attitude. Everything about "White Men Can't Jump" is to do with attitude from the opening scene as Billy arrives on the scene and talks to a gospel singing group of old guys to the action of the game play on the courts to the way every character puts each other down it is simply full of attitude. But it is that attitude, that abundance of energy, the large characters, the snappy wit of the put down, the constant jive talking which constantly keeps you focussed and entertained. In fact the attitude is so entertaining that you wonder what the story is or is it two hours of people winding each other up again and again.
So lets focus on the characters for a second and on one hand you have Sidney Deane who is a smooth operating hustler wanting to make things better for him and his wife. But then you have Billy and whilst he is a hustler he never knows when enough is enough as in why he ends up in debt all the time as he can't stop himself from gambling. What we see is the mixed fortunes and not only for Billy as there is his girlfriend Gloria who grows tired of him constantly losing all their money. But that is not all and whilst others have gone in to detail over what happened all I am saying is there are some twists and double crosses.
Now Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson certainly deliver the entertainment on the court and look pretty believable when it comes to the game play. And then there is Rosie Perez who delivers that typical mix of cute and sexy but with a feisty, pushy side. But in truth the star of "White Men Can't Jump" is writer and director Ron Shelton as he brings to life the energy and the attitude of hustlers on the basketball court.
What this all boils down to is that "White Men Can't Jump" is still after twenty plus years a lot of fun with great action, great writing, great casting and great cinematography. Yes there are better basketball movies but there are none which have the attitude and dialogue of "White Men Can't Jump".