White Men Can’t Jump

White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez
Extras: Deleted Scene, Music Video, Theatrical Trailer

Director Ron Shelton seems to have cornered the market on sports movies that double as romantic comedies and classic buddy films. His surprise hit, ’Bull Durham,’ revealed the steamy underside of small-town minor league baseball while ’Tin Cup’ took a washed-up golfer and his down-to-earth caddie onto the hallowed fairways of the U.S. Open. In between these two movies, Shelton directed ’White Men Can’t Jump.’ The sports venue for this particular film is the urban public basketball court.

Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) is a hustler who parlays the fact that he’s white into easy pickings on the asphalt basketball courts of Venice Beach. Finally meeting his verbal and athletic match in Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes), the two decide to team up and raise their con to a higher level. Eventually, the competition between the two friends drives a wedge between them until some shady past dealings force them to finally come to terms with each other. All the while, Hoyle’s girlfriend, Gloria Clemente (Rosie Perez), is endlessly practicing in the hopes of landing a spot on the game show, ’Jeopardy.’ Full of witty banter, and some fine basketball moves to boot, ’White Men Can’t Jump’ is an enjoyable film to watch.

Presented in anamorphic widescreen and framed at 1.85:1, the picture is on the whole quite good. Colors, brightness, sharpness, and contrast are all spot on (maybe a little too spot on as the garish colors of those early 90s bicycle shorts everyone is sporting gets a bit overwhelming!). I did notice some wear on the print used — evidenced by a few marks and nicks that pop up here and there. Other than that, I was very impressed with the transfer.

The audio comes in a very full-sounding DD 2.0 surround mix. Dialogue is always clear and the entire front soundstage is nice and wide. Surrounds are used frequently in the mix, especially for the diverse soundtrack and there is some decent bass extension — again used primarily for music.

The main advertised extra is a deleted scene that has been cut back into the movie. Unfortunately, I’m not a big enough fan of the film to be able to recognize where exactly this additional material appears. Also included are a music video featuring Riff’s title song, ’White Men Can’t Jump,’ two theatrical trailers (both full-frame), and one TV spot.

’White Men Can’t Jump’ benefits greatly from the obvious enthusiasm of its two main actors. Harrelson and Snipes both shoot a mean game of hoops and trash-talk with the best of them. The repartee between them makes the snappy dialogue sound that much more real and makes ’White Men Can’t Jump’ that much more of a joy to watch. Continuing Fox’s latest trend for top-notch work, the DVD features great audio and video — although a few more extras wouldn’t have gone unappreciated.