Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

White Men Can't Jump

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After the disappointing Blaze, writer-director Ron Shelton is back on track with the same mixture of sports action, sexual sparring, and comic, slangy dialogue that sparked Bull Durham. Like that earlier comedy, this is enough of a structural mess to lose itself somewhere before the end, but the jazzy surface action is even more lively and seductive. Basically the movie is a string of episodes occasioned by the teaming up of two basketball hustlers (Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes) in Los Angeles, with racial differences serving both to help their hustles along and to define the limits of their friendship; Do the Right Thing's feisty Rosie Perez plays Harrelson's girlfriend, who longs to be a contestant on Jeopardy, while Tyra Ferrell is accorded the less interesting and less prominent part of Snipes's wife. But if Shelton's flair for fancy dialogue and his preoccupation with scoring often make him seem like the Preston Sturges of southern jive, it's a pity that he doesn't seem to have a matching sense of plot and continuity. This picture is packed with fun, but it doesn't really go anywhere, and elements that summon up memories of The Hustler don't work in its favor. (Biograph, Bricktown Square, Burnham Plaza, Chestnut Station, Golf Glen, Plaza, Evanston, Hyde Park, Ford City)

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