The 1992 film ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ told its own story, but in 2023, director Calmatic’s version of the tale gets an updated plot, cast, soundtrack, and impact.
And it starts with its setting, Los Angeles.
“I’m born and raised in L.A.,” Calmatic says at a global press conference. “In film [and in] Hollywood, you see L.A. presented in so many different ways. But being someone who lives here, I’m like, there’s a whole L.A. that the world hasn’t seen yet. It’s the L.A. I grew up in, it’s also a very influential part of L.A. that hasn’t been seen yet. Just the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we play basketball.”
The film (if you couldn’t gather from the title) has a huge focus on basketball, or more so, two of its players and their inner circles who play street ball in Los Angeles.
2023’s ‘White Men Can’t Jump‘ centers on Kamal (Sinqua Walls) and Jeremy (Jack Harlow). Both men are talented at the game, but Jeremy’s career was sidelined after an injury, and Kamal equally has had his career stalled. Both are down on their luck in ways, and after meeting, the two join forces in a way to try and make some money. But on a deeper level, it’s about seemingly opposite individuals beginning to discover that they may have more in common than they thought—with a ton of comedic moments in between.
Sinqua came to the film with a basketball background (he played college ball in San Francisco), but besides him, the only other professional on set came from Teyana Taylor, who plays Imani in the film.
“The most important part was to make sure that this was authentic with basketball. And I think that’s something that truly Chuck really cared about and he was really critical about every time,” explains Sinqua. “I know Teyana’s gonna be critical of it. And it was important to make sure that that was infused naturally.”
“You know, to be able to sit back and watch it and bask in it, it was so amazing,” Teyana responds. “Sinqua is great. Jack is great. Yo, I’m impressed. The expert is impressed, you know?”
The 1992 ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ showcased the world of streetball in Venice Beach, California. In 2023’s version, we see more of the city and its culture, from Compton, to Gardena, to Crenshaw and beyond.
We also see singer Jack Harlow in his first movie role.
“I’m thankful that I joined a group of people that were so humble and willing to let me learn and be patient with me and be willing to teach. I feel like I arrived into an egoless environment and I was the least experienced person, and everyone just kinda let me shine and try things and gave me the room to give my opinion,” Harlow explains.
He continued: “I gotta give a big shoutout to Cal for that. I just appreciated that I could come into my first one and people actually cared what I thought. So, I just wanna give a big shoutout to everybody I’m sitting with here and everyone that was involved in the film, for making my first one such a seamless experience.”
The film also stars Laura Harrier, Vince Staples, Myles Bullock and Lance Reddick, who passed away before the film’s release in March. The final feature is in memory of him.
And for Harrier, although this is not the actress’ first film, she is stepping into the shoes of an iconic one by taking on the role that Rosie Perez held in the first rendition of this story as Harlow’s character’s girlfriend. And this remade version goes a bit deeper into her story.
“Rosie Perez is an actress I’ve always looked up to,[and] in the original film [she] is such an iconic role and character. So, I wanted to not try and reference any of that because I didn’t wanna try and do a recreation of what she was doing,” Harrier explains. “I wanted to give Tatiana her own character and her own person and my own interpretation of who she was. The entire film, we are kind of looking at the original and drawing bits and pieces—but definitely its own thing and its own retelling.”
Telling their own story came in many different facets, including in the soundtrack as well, which centered around once again, Calmatic’s hometown.
“There are so many artists in L.A. that don’t get the opportunity to be in films. If we’re gonna be specific about these locations and these characters and these people, then we gotta be specific about the sound,” he explains.
“Artists like Lil Russell, being a West Coast artist, we had to put him in the film. This is his first placement [and] I feel like he’s gonna be a super huge artist in the future. But even down to rappers like Epic Must Die and the Baby Stone Gorillas, these are super local L.A. acts that live in these neighborhoods that we portray.”
Overall, this new rendition of ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ pays homage in ways to the first film, but it’s not exactly a re-make. More so a re-mix.
“I feel like we sampled a movie, right?,” finishes Calmatic. “We took a couple of elements, we chopped it up, we changed the pitch, we reversed it a little bit. And then we put a whole new bassline, a whole new set of drums on it to make it feel current. I think we had a bunch of new elements, new characters [and a] new storyline. But we had to have some of those elements, some of those locations that are familiar to everyone that are associated with the original film. That was a dream come true.”
‘White Men Can’t Jump’ is now streaming on Hulu.