Difference between the two versions of White Men Can’t Jump: Hulu’s 2023 remake of the 1992 film ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ isn’t particularly the slamdunk that director Calmatic was hoping for. After remaking House Party earlier this year, the American filmmaker has another badly received movie on his hand. Critics haven’t been kind to the 2023 version, with reviews that call it ‘abysmal’ and ‘unimaginative’ making the rounds.
However, that’s not why you are here, are you? I am sure you have landed on this page because of your adoration for the 1992 original. While far from perfect, the original is still deemed one of the best basketball movies of all time. The 2023 version, however, instead of sticking to the formula of just updating the original, makes quite a few changes to the narrative.
In the following article, we will look at the main difference between the two versions, i.e., the 1992 vs. 2023 version of ‘White Men Can’t Jump.’ Please be aware that the article can be full of spoilers for both versions, so it’s best you approach with caution.
‘White Men Can’t Jump’: What’s the difference between the original and the 2023 remake?
Change in the name of the characters
In the original movie, Woody Harrelson played the street-smart basketball hustler Billy Hoyle, while Wesley Snipes borough to life the character of Sidney Deane. The 2023 version of White Men Can’t Jump, however, opts for a reimagining of the characters in order to give it a fresher perspective.
The two ‘Men’ at the center of the new film are named Kamal and Jeremy, portrayed by Sinqua Walls and Jack Harlow, respectively.
Kamal and Jeremy serve as contemporary reflections of Sidney and Billy, drawing inspiration from their original counterparts while bringing their own unique qualities to the table.
The named change and slight erase strokes are director Calmatic’s wish to craft individuals who resonate with modern audiences. Now, whether he succeeds or not is another story.
The characters have well-off Basketball careers before they meet:
In the White Men Can’t Jump remake, Jeremy and Kamal are both presented with opportunities to pursue professional basketball careers. Unlike the original film, where the protagonists were far from professional-level players, the new storyline takes a different route.
Kamal emerges as a former standout high school basketball prodigy, once hailed as the country’s top player. His exceptional talent and skills would have easily propelled him to the NBA if it weren’t for his struggle to control his volatile emotions both on and off the court.
Jeremy, on the other hand, brings a different dynamic to the story. Having played Division 1 basketball at Gonzaga University, he was well on his way to achieving his dream of becoming a professional player until he tears off his ACLs.
Jeremy’s struggle with painkillers and injuries:
While Billy’s character in the original film (which Jeremy is essentially based on) had a problem with gambling on basketball games, the new film tries to give him more depth by introducing the angle of his addiction to painkillers.
While Jeremy’s character normalizes his addiction because it will help him reach back to his perfect state to play basketball, his girlfriend Tatiana can see through this facade.
Kamal’s father is a significant figure in the remake:
In the original film, there’s zero mention of Sidney’s father. However, in the remake, Benji, played by Lance Reddick, is a significant figure who is put into the narrative in order to give Kamal’s character the much-needed boost and humility he needs.
Mobsters are replaced by a Gym Manger & Drug Dealer:
In the original 1992 version of White Men Can’t Jump, Billy is in pursuit by two dangerous mobsters to who he owes money. This running away from debt is an equally important aspect of the remake. However, instead of mobsters, Jeremy is seen trying to evade the eyes of his drug dealer and his gym manager.
This is one of the changes in the newer version that turns the whole chase thing futile. The stake never feels high and dilutes the excitement.
Leaving out that ‘Jeopardy!’ scene:
One of the only reasons why the original is often criticized is its over-the-top treatment of the odd and out-of-place Jeopardy! sequence.
For those of you who are unaware, Jeopardy! was a cultural phenomenon of a game show in the 1990s. In the 1992 film, Gloria’s appearance on the show is used for laughs and does very little or nothing to the movie’s overall narrative.
It’s one of the reasons why the director of the remake thought that getting rid of the scene would be a good idea.
Final Fate of the Characters:
One of the main differences between the 1992 and 2023 versions of White Men Can’t Jump is the eventual fate of its characters.
In the remake, Kamal and Jeremy win the championship, like in the original. However, while Sidney becomes a player in the original, also helping Billy get a job, none of them break into the big leagues.
In the remake, Kamal makes it to the NBA one year after their win, while Jeremy becomes a professional mindfulness coach for athletes, working alongside NBA players like Tyler Hero.