White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

This is an oldie, from 1992, but I never saw White Men Can’t Jump back in the 90s. It was a popular film back then, and I have a soft spot for writer/director Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham, and I remember being seemingly the only person around at the time who liked Tin Cup.

White Men Can’t Jump fits neatly in with these two other sports films. This one is about Basketball hustlers on the surface, but (like all good films) actually has a lot more going on the subtext and themes mingling in with the story.

So while I won’t talk about the story, I will look at some of the subtext and bigger themes in the film (it might seem funny to discuss the deeper hidden themes in White Men Can’t Jump – but hey-ho, that’s where this seems to be going…)

It’s a film about male-female relationships, and the way people with differences (be they, colour, race, physical size, and gender) relate to each other – there you go, that’s what it’s about. It’s not actually about Basketball at all. (Ahem).

This might seem high-brow (don’t get me started on what ‘Jaws’ is actually about!) but as a script writer for hire theme and subtext are my bread and butter. And Ron Shelton had a clear idea of what his fun popcorn hustler movie was really saying to the audience.

White Men Can’t Jump is whispering – hey, listen to each other, don’t judge each other, we’re all the same underneath. (I can hear regular readers laughing right now).

So, anyway, it’s a fun film, a great look back at LA in the early 90s, and Snipes and Harrelson have a great chemistry as does Rosie Perez and both men. (She really was something back then, I don’t think we really knew what to do with her…but I’m glad she’s there.)

Apparently Stanley Kubrick really liked the film too, but back in the day, in his youth in New York Kubrick hustled chess, I wonder if he ever had a Rosie Perez style girlfriend on his back…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on matcoop23@yahoo.co.uk or hire him on Peopleperhour