White Men Can't Jump Blu-ray offers solid video and great audio in this enjoyable Blu-ray release
Black and white basketball hustlers join forces to double their chances.
For more about White Men Can't Jump and the White Men Can't Jump Blu-ray release, see White Men Can't Jump Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on January 14, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
"White Men Can't Jump" is a lively movie, almost to a fault. Blessed with a provocative title, perfect theatrical release timing, and a commitment to the mischief of men conducting business on street basketball courts, the feature made a sizable impression when it was released in 1992, pulling in unexpectedly hearty box office returns while hinting at a bright screen future for the pairing of Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes. Audiences responded to the material's slack broheim attitude and attention to sporting detail, while its improvisational loquaciousness caught many off-guard, generating a rowdy atmosphere of put-downs and double-crosses, soaked in a distinctly urban Los Angeles atmosphere of desperation. Twenty years later, it's a little easier to isolate why "White Men Can't Jump" moves from a bubbling diversion to a taxing sit, identifying writer/director Ron Shelton as a helmer unable to control his own creation, using snappy basketball sequences to tenderize an otherwise chewy comedy populated with unpleasant characters and extended dialogue exchanges that keep the effort dizzy with unfocused verbal energy, punctuated with a bizarrely misguided summation.
Hoping to outrun a debt owed to fledgling Italian gangsters, Billy (Woody Harrelson) looks to cash in on his one and only skill: basketball. Using his natural talent to hustle the street basketball stars of Los Angeles, Billy meets his match in Sidney (Wesley Snipes), a gifted player/incurable loudmouth actively avoiding adulthood with his wife and infant son, taking to the court to collect coin from saps gunning to take on the king. Losing to Billy in public, Sidney goes crazy, yet he recognizes the deceptively doofy Caucasian's worth, offering to team-up with the newcomer as they work out increasingly lucrative schemes that find them dominating their opponents. Unfortunately, trust becomes an issue between the players, finding Billy losing a fortune when his compulsive gambling urge gets the best of him. Waiting at home is Billy's loyal girlfriend, Gloria (Rosie Perez), a woman who dreams of one day appearing on "Jeopardy," also frustrated with her lover's emotional frigidity and destructive behavior. With mobsters closing in on Billy, and Sidney's hope for a brighter future outside South Central fading, the pair makes a final play for financial freedom on the basketball court.
Don't get me wrong, "White Men Can't Jump" has moments of inspired comedy, wading into the murky waters of rapid fire put-downs, often emerging in the form of the "dozens" -- games of playful antagonism often obsessed with the various sexual practices and enormous weight gain of "yo momma." The feature is soaked with the stuff, with Shelton keeping his focus on the barbed interplay of the cast as they bait their way through scenes, reinforcing the urban attitude of the picture and the volatility of the basketball courts, where gunplay is just as common as a slam dunk. The jesting launches "White Men Can't Jump" on a wave of tomfoolery, watching Billy and Sidney feel each other out before they join forces, discovering they have more in common than initially understood. There's undeniable chemistry between Snipes and Harrelson (though 1995's abysmal "Money Train" would disagree), but they have little substantial screenwriting to work with, burning through improvisations and yelling matches that Shelton doesn't shape into sharp comedy, instead embracing the white noise generated by the leads. It's exhausting to watch the cast cough up whatever happens to pass through their minds, finding most of these lines unfunny and forced on unprepared talent.
Thankfully, there's the basketball element to keep "White Men Can't Jump" afloat. The court showdowns are highly entertaining, spotlighting the natural momentum of the game embellished with Hollywood magic, with the story eventually boiling down to Billy's inability to dunk. Shelton's script goes off on a series of tangents with criminals, domestic disturbances, and Gloria's sponge-like ability to soak up nuggets of trivia as she waits for her favorite game show to contact her, yet it all comes secondary to the sporting sequences. Here, the effort engages on a visceral level, toying with impossible shots and blown scoring opportunities, which is far more enchanting than dealing with ill-defined personal problems that even Shelton himself seems disinterested in. A few, including Gloria's alcoholism, are introduced with prominence, never to be heard from again. There's a reason why the filmmaker has largely concentrated on sports throughout his career (including "Bull Durham" and "Tin Cup"), as his time with dramatics often relies too heavily on formula.
The AVC encoded image (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation isn't quite as robust as hoped for, but still makes a fine impression in HD, boasting stable, rich colors that pop beautifully off funky '90's costuming and L.A. graffiti, while neighborhood character is also nicely represented with interesting, secure hues. A thin layer of grain remains to provide a cinematic feel, while the viewing experience moves from soft to crisp without much logic, though it's not overwhelmingly distracting. Fine detail is adequate, permitting inspection of facial reactions and locations, while fabrics also offer compelling textures. Skintones retain their natural appearance, with a handful of overly red moments breaking up consistency. Shadow detail is satisfactory with a few sludgy evening shots. However, most of the effort is captured in the brightness of day, keeping distances and hairstyles illuminated in full.
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound mix has it a little easier than most Blu-rays, boasting a bouncy soundtrack of hip-hop and R&B cuts intended to bring a little L.A. street flavor to the proceedings. The music sounds full and crisp, moving along with a healthy low-end to hammer home the heavier beats. Instrumentation is serviceable, capably guiding the energy of the images. Dialogue exchanges, which arrive at light speed on occasion, are easily followed and secure, with subtle performance choices communicated without distortion. The group dynamic is also managed well, keeping disparate and argumentative voices arranged without clutter. Surrounds are limited to music selections, which reach around without much prominence, while light atmospherics perk up sporadically. Immersive this mix is most certainly not, but the general air of sporting strain and oral confrontation is sustained to satisfaction, eased along by the excitable soundtrack.
Music Video (3:56, SD) provides a look at the R&B group Riff, who perform "White Men Can't Jump" while comic and basketball court inspiration is provided by Harrelson, Snipes, and Perez, who remains surprisingly sedate considering her ferocious dance dominance established three years prior in "Do the Right Thing."
TV Spot (:32, SD) is provided.
And Theatrical Trailer A (2:02, SD) and Theatrical Trailer B (1:34, SD) are offered.
Two hours is a long time to spend with these borderline contemptuous characters, especially when the final act basically turns Billy in a bumbling villain while Sidney is heralded as some type of all-knowing saint, despite the pair's shared fascination with destructive irresponsibility. "White Men Can't Jump" is filled with these little inconsistencies, which add up to a disjointed, sporadically engaging picture that's more confident palming a basketball than it is dealing honestly with the emotional void of its participants. Shelton aims for a jovial ride of impish behavior, yet "White Men Can't Jump" doesn't sustain the good times for very long, with its opening tonal sprint reduced to a painful limp by the time the end credits arrive.
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The UK branch of 20th Century Fox Entertainment has revealed that it is planning to release on Blu-ray director Ron Shelton's comedy White Men Can't Jump (1992), starring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson and Rosie Perez. The preliminary release date set by the studio ...
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release on Blu-ray Ron Shelton's comedy White Men Can't Jump (1992), starring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson and Rosie Perez. The release will be available for purchase exclusively at Wal-Mart on November 6th.