🎥🍣 Movie Sushi — White Men Can’t Jump

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6 min readFeb 11, 2021

Sidney’s trying to put Walter off his game with insults. It’s hard work for Sidney to make Walter look so bad. When Walter goes up for a shot, Sidney denies him. Walter’s left on the floor claiming he was fouled. When there’s a score dispute, Sidney insults George’s mother. George attacks Sidney, but Junior splits them up. Then, Sidney approaches virtually the only white man there and asks him the score.

Billy spins a basketball on his finger. Sidney calls him a chump. Billy says his name is Billy Hoyle, but he doesn’t know the current score. Sidney calls him a chump again. Billy corrects Sidney again and Sidney’s rattled, but returns to his game.

Walter retires injured. Sidney suggests Billy takes his place. But, George doesn’t want him. When given the greenlight, Billy performs elaborate warm-ups. He makes an excellent pass, but Sidney calls it luck.

Billy’s team scores again. Sidney thinks Billy’s intuitive passes are luck. Billy asks Sidney what it’s worth: to find out if he can shoot as well. Billy produces $62 cash and drops it on the floor — calling Sidney a chump.

They line up to outscore the other from a set distance from the basket. It takes some time to decide who shoots first. It being Sidney’s court, should the visitor go first? Billy’s initially too polite to go first but, in the end, he takes the ball.

Sidney criticises Billy’s country club basketball. Billy asks Junior for some space to take his first shot. Billy makes the shot. He walks away seemingly incredulous that he did. Sidney’s first shot also goes in. He milks the fact and Junior starts singing and dancing to himself. Billy’s next shot goes in, also. He walks off — again in disbelief at his luck.

Sidney says Billy’s shot had no aesthetic value whatsoever. Sidney’s own shot goes in. Junior quotes John Keats saying “a thing of beauty is a joy forever”. Billy’s third shot goes in, as does Sidney’s. Billy’s fourth shot goes in and he still talks about being very lucky.

Sidney’s shot goes in. After lots of grand-standing by Sidney, who’s excessively shuffling around with his hand outstretched in the air accepting praise, Billy tells him to shut up.

Billy then explains that he dresses the way he does so people are distracted from his actual talent. Billy makes his basket. If Sidney misses his, he’s been beaten twice by a slow, white, geeky chump. Sidney’s shot misses. He wants his money back — but others step in to stop him. Billy gets his bag, turns his cap around and walks off.

When Billy gets home, his girlfriend, Gloria says they still need $7,000 to pay off the Stucci brothers. She says she’s been studying all day, convinced that the Jeopardy gameshow will one day call. When Billy showers, she goes straight for the vodka. When there’s someone at the door, she interrupts Billy’s shower to tell him — fearing that it’s the Stucci brothers.

It’s actually Sidney. In the bathroom, Gloria’s hurriedly getting ready to jump out the back window as planned. When she meets Sidney, she soon has him at gunpoint. Sidney wants to be Billy’s partner in an upcoming basketball tournament.

Later, Sidney is losing to Raymond and friend. Sidney claims to be so good, he’d beat the home team no matter who he played with. Raymond can choose anyone and Sidney is willing to bet $500. The two local players choose Billy, who starts flagrantly warming up. Raymond gathers together the $500 to bet with — selling his gun for $250.

Billy and Sidney beat Raymond’s team. But, Raymond pulls out a knife. When Billy accidentally demonstrates that he knows Sidney, things deteriorate. Raymond is furious. He wants to get his other gun and shoot everybody. Raymond marches back to his car as everybody flees, jumping over fences to escape.

When they drop off Sidney, he mentions that Gloria’s looking fine. Billy gets defensive. Sidney’s never seen this weakness before. Billy puts on Gloria’s favourite song in the car — she straddles him as he drives, smooching with him all the while.

In Watts, Sidney suggests that his opponent, Robert, can choose any teammate for him. Sidney produces $1,700 to bet with. Robert selects Billy, who’s started his outrageous warm-ups. Billy’s team loses this time.

At home, Billy asks Gloria if Jeopardy called yet. She’s been learning books of the old testament and offers to say all thirty nine of them backwards. When Billy says he’s lost the money again — and Sidney played badly — she suspects Billy was hustled.

She wants her money back. Billy says this isn’t an option. She grabs her coat and they get the bus anyway. Billy’s worried because it’s after dark and the Crenshaw District is predominantly black — she’s Puerto Rican and he’s white.

Billy tries explaining how wagers work, but Gloria ignores him. Sidney’s wife, Rhonda answers the door. Inside, Sidney’s lounging with three friends, including Robert from Watts. Billy thought he and Sidney were partners, Sidney disagrees.

In the kitchen, the women talk. Gloria explains to Rhonda about the Stucci brothers having sold her a dodgy car for $3,000. Then, Billy agreed to lose a game on purpose for the brothers, but then didn’t. Rhonda blames Gloria’s boyfriend, then suggests a solution. Both women tell Billy and Sidney to play together in an upcoming tournament.

At the 2-on-2 Brotherhood Tournament, the first prize is $5,000. Of the teams, Flight and Willie are the main contenders. Billy shouts that they’re both chumps. Sidney quickly takes Billy aside. Billy claims he’s doing two things: making them mad and embarrassing Sidney.

Billy still yells at Flight and Willie. During their first game, Billy continuously insults everyone else. He keeps antagonising even when spectating. Sidney takes Billy aside again. When Billy stresses that he’s “in the zone”, Sidney says it’s not about being in the zone or black or white. It’s about green.

When Billy and Sidney finally play Flight and Willie, there’s lots of aggression. One of the men teases Billy about how he can’t dunk the ball. It’s point game for Billy and Sidney. Billy scores his basket and they win the contest. In the car driving home, Billy wants to bet his half of the prize money that he can dunk.

Billy says a white man wants to win first, look good second while a black man wants to look good first, win second. Billy says he needs just three tries. The first fails. Billy protests that the hoop isn’t regulation height. Sidney jumps up and swings on the rim declaring that it is. Billy fails again. Sidney then says that white men can’t jump. Billy kisses his neck chain for luck. He fails again, having just lost $2,500.

Sidney and Rhonda live it up that night, but Gloria is angry at having been kept waiting. Billy’s bought her a new dress. She straddles him in his chair and he says he lost the money again. Gloria throws over the table and leaves. The carpet of their motel room catches fire and Billy goes back to tend to it. The Stucci brothers show up and knock Billy out. They give him one more week.

Next day, Billy goes to meet with Sidney saying he’s desperate and that Gloria’s left him. Sidney talks to friend Robert, security guard at the Jeopardy studio.

Gloria appears on Jeopardy — where she excels. Billy goes backstage afterwards with his guitar. He sings a personal, sentimental song mentioning drymouthedness and she takes him back.

Billy says he’s turned over a new leaf. She gives him $2,000 for a new suit for job interviews. Then, Sidney discovers he’s been burgled. Billy and Gloria are out discussing their future together when Sidney takes Billy aside. Eddie “The King” Faroo and Duck Johnson are back on the courts. It costs $2,500 to pay to play these veteran legends. Billy wants to gamble.

As soon as Billy tells Gloria there’s a big game coming up, she turns frosty. Soon, he’s unprecedentedly guaranteeing victory. Gloria, now in tears, kisses him goodbye and leaves.

Sidney and Billy play well together. After one pass in particular, Billy dunks the ball — lifting himself up on the rim afterwards.

Billy finds Gloria’s left him again. He can’t understand it, he won, but he still lost her? Sidney says he should have “listened to the woman”.

The Stucci brothers show up and Billy gives them their cash. He poses as a corpse for them for their photo album of victims.

Billy asks Sidney if he has to agree with the woman as well. Sidney says listening is a good start. Billy asks Sidney for a job. Sidney jokingly asks if he has any references. They walk around Venice Beach, Sidney donating a twenty dollar bill to the gospel jazz singers.

Starring Wesley Snipes. Woody Harrelson. Rosie Perez. Rated 15. Dir Ron Shelton. Released in the UK 1992. Runtime 1hr 55mins

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Ad teaches & gives speeches on his MH struggle + recovery at institutions right across the world. (Movie Sushi pieces contain spoilers)