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An oral history of White Men Can't Jump
August 21, 2012 11:19 AM   Subscribe

An oral history of White Men Can't Jump
posted by Cloud King (27 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
This was one of those articles that I didn't even know I needed but just adds to how great the movie is. I totally needed it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:50 AM on August 21, 2012


I couldn't stand that movie, but I have never been able to determine whether there was actually anything wrong with the movie or whether I was just that outraged that they broke the rules of Jeopardy!.

Neat article, though, and I want every site in the world to adopt the sidenotes.
posted by darksasami at 11:52 AM on August 21, 2012


darksasami: "I couldn't stand that movie, but I have never been able to determine whether there was actually anything wrong with the movie or whether I was just that outraged that they broke the rules of Jeopardy!."

THANK YOU. That type of stuff drove me crazy in my youth. Like when Mama from Mama's Family went on Jeopardy and won a Hawaiian vacation as a way-too-nice consolation prize. I mean, sure, it was the set-up for the two-part episode where the cast went to Hawaii, but still...

Wow, I've just revealed a lot about myself in this moment, haven't I?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:57 AM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


That was neat. I always kinda liked that movie, it isn't great but I think it is a well made low key and largely forgotten movie.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:04 PM on August 21, 2012


Keanu almost broke my neck going up for a layup. He was so wild. He was throwing the ball hard and throwing elbows. He didn't know what he was doing. Ron stopped it, like, "OK, I've seen enough." I thought, Wow, what was he doing growing up? He didn't play ball?

Hockey.

Ron also went to Chicago to meet with John Cusack.

Hockey.

Jeez, were they starting with the Mighty Ducks rejects, or what?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:24 PM on August 21, 2012


Someday I want to visit the parallel universe where Keanu starred in WMCJ and Will Smith took the job in The Matrix. I don't think I want to live there, I just want to see what it's like.

(Presumably Woody Harrelson would end up starring in Wild Wild West)
posted by no regrets, coyote at 12:41 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, what a great movie. I remember seeing this in the theatre -- we were on vacation, I don't even remember where, and my dad took my brother & me to see it. I was 10 at the time. It was the first R rated movie I ever saw in the theatre. I had recently been told that theatres were required by law to have their doors open outward because one time a theatre had doors that opened inward and everyone died in a fire because everyone was pushing against the door and panicking and no one could get the god damned door open, and I spent a majority of the movie worrying about what would happen if a fire broke out in the theatre. I was just displacing my anxiety. So you know those weird family experiences where something embarrassing happens or everyone realizes that someone in the family made some grievous error of judgment--and I mean everyone in the family knows this, is aware of nothing else in that moment--but no one talks about it when it happens or anytime after that? That's what it was like. I only vaguely recall specific points of the movie, since an overriding self-consciousness permeated my awareness through the onslaught of foul language, violence, and (in particular) the sex scene with Rosie Perez. (It's to my dad's credit, I think, that he didn't ask us not to tell mom.)

Still, I got something out of it. WMCJ taught me the difference between 'listening' and 'hearing'. If you transpose from music to everything, and call it 'knowing' and 'understanding', I find this distinction useful for thinking about race, sex, etc. Lots of people 'know' that some behavior was racist, but they don't 'understand' it. They have to have it explained, and they don't really get it on a gut level. Just like Woody couldn't hear Gladys Knight. And lots of people who 'know' that racism, sexism, homophobia, trans-phobia, etc. are wrong and bad don't go -- or don't know how to go -- the extra mile to try to understand that badness, to look in the mirror, to learn to hear instead of listen. So thanks, Wesley and Woody for teaching me that sometimes I need to just shut up, stop listening, and try to hear.
posted by mister-o at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


A thing of beauty is a joy forever. My man John Keats said that.
posted by ND¢ at 12:57 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


darksasami's momma's an astronaut.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:00 PM on August 21, 2012


One of Stanley Kubrick's favorite movies.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:09 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


mister-o: "So you know those weird family experiences where something embarrassing happens or everyone realizes that someone in the family made some grievous error of judgment--and I mean everyone in the family knows this, is aware of nothing else in that moment--but no one talks about it when it happens or anytime after that? "


My cousins, brother and I call that "The 'Take My Breath Away' sex scene in Top Gun while sitting next to grandma' moment." Or at least we could.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:33 PM on August 21, 2012


I'm so confused by this thread. Maybe I'm just tired - I've been in airports and on planes all day and am currently sitting in a terminal in Atlanta - and maybe my irony meter is malfunctioning. People honestly look back at this movie with fondness and not just a vague 'oh yeah, that's something that came out in the early 90's'?
posted by item at 1:37 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Cusack wasn't really a basketball player. He wanted to do it, but I don't think athletically John was as … He was into kickboxing at the time.

Well, it was the sport of the future.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:40 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Either case, I think we've reached the tipping point for oral histories. What's next, an oral history of oral histories?
posted by item at 1:40 PM on August 21, 2012


Cozart: They lowered it a few inches...Stretching doesn't give you another four, five inches in hops.

Harrelson: I was pretty psyched because I knew I could do that. I did it again just by stretching a little bit.

Shelton: Of course Woody would say that.


F'n great. Also, (ladies voice) "naw, naw, this ain't Raymond"
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 1:43 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't tell Ghost of Studs Terkel? He's not nearly as nice as the living one was.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:43 PM on August 21, 2012


People honestly look back at this movie with fondness and not just a vague 'oh yeah, that's something that came out in the early 90's'?

Yes. Have you seen it? Its a better film than its trailer or gimmicky title suggests.
Bull Durham wasnt Major League and this one is richer as well.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:45 PM on August 21, 2012


If he'd changed his name to John Cusack van Damme he might have made it.
posted by biffa at 2:14 PM on August 21, 2012


I'm so confused by this thread. Maybe I'm just tired - I've been in airports and on planes all day and am currently sitting in a terminal in Atlanta - and maybe my irony meter is malfunctioning. People honestly look back at this movie with fondness and not just a vague 'oh yeah, that's something that came out in the early 90's'?

I had no idea people lived like this. I'm so sorry for you. I wish there was a way I could help, but I'll be too busy rewatching WMCJ for the 800th time tonight.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 2:26 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, it is a wonderful movie, and the version of Just a Closer Walk with Thee by the Venice Beach Boys in the first is so good (unfortunately no video).
posted by beisny at 2:36 PM on August 21, 2012


"I'm going to put my mouth where my money is."

And who would have guessed that "Mount Suvius" was an actual flub? Too perfect.
posted by Mapes at 4:16 PM on August 21, 2012


For any given thing, there is somebody who looks back at it with fondness.
posted by box at 4:56 PM on August 21, 2012


Yeah, I really have a soft spot for White Men Can't Jump. It's good stuff. This was a good read, too!
posted by kbanas at 5:08 PM on August 21, 2012


Ah, timely! Elements of that ongoing metatalk thread and the Rebecca Solnis post got me remembering the "Thirst" scene. What other movie comes close to showing that contrast so simply and clearly?
posted by tyro urge at 5:48 PM on August 21, 2012


Yeah, great movie; not a guilty pleasure. Extremely entertaining. I remember having to defend it at the time, too, and convince friends to watch it. It's all mixed up in my memory with TV news footage of the L.A. riots.

Cobb: also great. Shelton's are the only sports movies that have ever really worked for me.
posted by absqua at 7:54 PM on August 21, 2012


Hah great article, one of my favorite movies. The thought of Keanu in this instead of Woody is downright scary.

The chemistry of the actors is perfect. Also, the actual basketball was really fun to watch. Way better job than any other sports movie I can of. Nothing fancy, just the feeling you are there, watching some street ball.
posted by meta87 at 7:24 AM on August 22, 2012


All I can think is, "Poor Wesley Snipes."
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2012


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