Quite possibly no other trend in Hollywood filmmaking today is both more loved and loathed than that of the remake. It’s safe to say that if you were a fan of a particular film as a child, there’s a very good chance that it’s been remade, is in the process of being remade or is being considered for a remake. Studios like a sure thing and since a sure thing is impossible to predict, the next closest option is remaking something that people once loved.
Of course, this technique is not without risk. Bring up the word “remake” in the presence of movie lovers and the groans are often overwhelming. This is an unfair reaction, however, because remaking popular titles is a deeply entrenched part of Hollywood’s cinematic history. It’s easy to remember the failures, but people tend to overlook the successes. And although a film like, say, the 1992 comedy hit White Men Can’t Jump wasn’t likely on anyone’s dream list of remakes, the prospect of revisiting that story is enticing enough to some.
Thanks to an exclusive announcement from THR, we now have confirmation that White Men Can’t Jump is in fact, getting set to be remade. Heading up the project for 20th Century Fox is the creator of ABC’s award-winning series Black-ish, Kenya Barris, who will share producing duties with pro athletes Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers and Ryan Kalil of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. In addition to his producing role, Barris is also set to write the film’s script. At present time there is no casting news, nor is there a confirmed release date.
The original White Men Can’t Jump stared Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes and Rosie Perez and enjoyed a good reception from audiences. It was also fortunate enough to arrive at a time when the pop-culture of the early 1990s meshed with the film’s overall style and tone; not to mention at a point in the careers of Harrelson and Snipes when both actors' popularity was on the rise. The story follows the lives of two street basketball hustlers in Los Angeles who decide to team up in order to better cash in on more lucrative opportunities. Harrelson’s character Billy Hoyle is adept at taking advantage of people’s misconception that because he is white, he won’t be good at basketball (hence the film’s title) and Snipes’ Sidney Dean is a talented and cocky athlete whose disdain for being beaten by Billy leads him to initiate a partnership between the two.
There’s no reason to believe that a remake of White Men Can’t Jump couldn’t succeed – or even surpass the original’s appeal. However, in order for this to happen, the film must secure a strong cast – Kevin Hart springs to mind as the perfect Sidney Dean, alongside James Franco or Paul Rudd as Billy Hoyle. But in addition to whoever Barris and co decide to cast, the film must have a script that crackles with humor, energy and fun in order to even begin to challenge the original. Anything short of these requirements will likely see the film fall into the all too familiar trap of remakes that didn’t reach their potential.
We likely won’t hear much more about this remake for some time yet, given that the announcement has just been made. But Kenya Barris’ success with Black-ish has proven that he’s capable of setting up comedy that delivers to a mass audience. It will be interesting to see where this project goes and hopefully it can take its place as one of the remakes that hits big with audiences.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on the White Men Can’t Jump remake as more news becomes available.