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White Men Can't Jump
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that despite an appealing, diverse cast and a provocative title, there's not much redeeming social value in this movie. Characters lie, cheat, and steal. They gamble and they drink. There are several sex scenes in which Gloria is topless or nearly topless with references to oral sex. There are also quite a few scenes of threatened violence, though no one gets killed.
What's the story?
In WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP, Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) is a goofy-looking white guy with a secret: He can play basketball better than almost any player out there on the courts of L.A. When he moves into Sidney Dean's (Wesley Snipes) territory, however, the two become rivals and then business partners, creating an elaborate ruse to con unsuspecting basketball players out of hundreds of dollars. But when Sidney steals Billy's money and then Billy loses his money in a stupid bet, he faces losing the love of his life, Gloria (the divine Rosie Perez). To make it up to her, he concocts a plan to help her win Jeopardy! and to get right with some mobsters who are tracking him.
Is it any good?
It may entertain, but it's just not funny enough. There was a cultural moment when Do the Right Thing and Thelma and Louise opened up the discussion of race and gender in this country. Around the same time, White Men Can't Jump came out and exploited both those interests in what is essentially two hours of race- and gender-baiting jokes and put-downs.
The basketball scenes here are all showboating and predictable. By the time Billy and Sidney meet their third mark, the results are obvious and boring. There's little tension here about what's going to happen, so you'd like the dialogue to at least be entertaining. And it is -- if you grew up in a locker room. There are moments of great "your momma" jokes, but mostly the jokes, like the basketball scenes, grow tired and repetitive quickly. Only true basketball fans, or fans of the actors, will love this one.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.