Daily Archives: May 24, 2023

Movie Review – White Men Can’t Jump (2023)

I can’t jump but it’s not because I’m white. It’s because I like pizza too much.

BQB here with a review of the Hulu remake of the 1990s comedy classic.

I have never seen 1992’s White Men Can’t Jump. I have no idea why. It’s just one of several movies I never saw and I never think of it when I’m scrolling through the various streaming services, unable to find anything appealing.

And therein lies the rub. The reviews are in and the critics agree this flick is a pale imitation of its original predecessor. I on the other hand, liked it but maybe I wouldn’t had I seen the Woody Harrelson/Wesley Snipes original.

Jack Harlow (who is apparently, a rapper and I only know this because I’m so old now that I learn of the existence of new celebrities when I see them for the first time hosting SNL instead of the past, when I was hip and knew who they were years before Lorne Michaels noticed them) and Sinqua Walls play the odd couple duo of Jeremy and Kamal, two young men who in many ways, could not be more different, yet they bond and become fast friends over their shared love of basketball.

Both were once stars whose careers were tragically cut short. Kamal was a high school all-star on the way to the NBA when a lost temper incident with an unruly fan cost him everything. Jeremy was a college player on the way to the NBA when an injury blew his knee out.

Now they’re in their late 20s, far from being washed up in most respects, though when it comes to sports, they’re circling the drain. Kamal has long accepted he’ll never play with the greats, but is rife with bitterness as he works a menial job and lives in poverty, depressed over what he lost.

Meanwhile Jeremy is cluelessly optimistic, popping all manner of dangerous pills in the unlikely hope of curing his knee and getting back to the game before its too late.

Both in need of dough, they team up and start hustling in street games for money, winning bigger and better bets, all in the hopes of winning the entry fee to a big neighborhood tournament with a hefty grand prize, not to mention public exposure that could turn their hoop dreams into reality.

I know very little about sports, so a lot of the technical details about b-ball went over my head. I have, late in life, become a health food junkie in the past 6 months, so I recognized a little bit of myself in Jeremy as he runs around preaching the benefits of veggies and turmeric. (Yes, he admits he is a walking contradiction as he pops pills but is also a vegetarian.)

You know what I liked most about this film? It was woke without being preachy. Two dudes who come from very different backgrounds who can’t stand each other at first but they grow closer over a shared dream and a shared love of something. Most streaming films these days (I’m looking at you, Netflix) feel a need to spoon feed the woke message to the viewer.

Here, it’s self explanatory. Jeremy helps Kamal make his comeback with yoga, meditation and green drinks while Kamal helps Jeremy navigate a whole new world of street ball, trash talking and not saying the wrong thing that will get his butt kicked.

In short, we’re all more alike than we are different. If we share a love of something, we’re even more alike and if we listen to each other, we can learn from each other. We have all experienced different things in life and we have a lot to teach each other.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, but I really need to watch the original now. P.S. – all the bright colors of the court in the final scene really pop on an HDTV.

Double PS: This is, I believe, the last film starring the late, great Lance Reddick who passed too soon in March. Lance stars as Kamal’s dying father Benji, who Kamal feels he has terribly disappointed, despite Benji’s best efforts to convince Kamal this is not the case.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s eerie that in the last two films Lance starred in, his characters die. His character, Charon the Concierge, dies unexpectedly in the recently released John Wick 4. I always liked him in the Wire. RIP Lance.

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Movie Review – The Super Mario Brothers Movie (2023)

It’s a me! Mario!

BQB here with a review.

It’s no easy task to make a movie based on 40 year old IP that will please both the middle aged adults who loved the brand as kids as well as today’s kids who have completely different childhoods than their parents, but darned if the geniuses at Nintendo and Illumination didn’t come together to find a way in one heck of a picture.

Truth be told, Mario’s adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom have been low hanging fruit, just dying to be turned into a good movie for decades, but Hollywood execs could never figure it out. There was a live action abomination in the 90s starring the late greats Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins as well as still alive John Leguizamo, but it had little to do with the subject matter.

That’s where I take my hat off to the producers here. Sometimes you have source material that is timeless and if you stick with it, albeit it with a few modern upgrades, it will stand the test of time for today’s kids as well as tomorrow’s kids.

The plot? Mario and Luigi (Chris Pratt and Charlie Day) live in a cramped Brooklyn apartment with their extended family. They just left a plumbing company run by frenemy Spike (Sebastian Manisculco) to start their own business, subjecting them to mockery from a fam that doesn’t believe in them.

Whilst on a job, the bros get sucked down a pipe into the Mushroom Kingdom and are separated. From there, it’s up to Mario to team up with Princess Peach (Anya Taylor Joy) and Toad (Keegan Michael Key) to rescue Luigi from Bowser, who does a few vocal performances in this one because he’s voiced by Jack Black. Oh and of course, they’ll need to convince Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) to lend his furry muscles to the rescue mission.

That’s pretty much it. The film does not even try to explain anything about how the world works, why there are pipes that lead from earth to the Mushroom Kingdom, why there are all these boxes that give you special powers and so on. Many video game movies fail when they get bogged down in long explanations of why nonsensical things exist when ultimately the answer is because they’re fun when you see them in video game form.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Illumination is really kicking Disney’s butt as of late.

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