I asked some of my fellow Flickcharters for random Matchup of the Day suggestions, and I ended up with these basketball comedies (in recognition of March Madness)
I’m not much into competitive athletics myself, but I can appreciate a decent sports flick if I’m in the right mood. This was my first viewing of both films. While there’s the obvious basketball connection, I think there might also be some philosophical similarities as well. In White Men Can’t Jump, there are two lessons that are repeated throughout:
#1 Sometimes when you win, you actually lose (and vice versa).
#2 There’s a difference between listening and hearing.
Lesson #1 comes from Rosie Perez, who plays Woody Harrelson‘s Jeopardy-obsessed girlfriend. Harrelson is a basketball hustler who has the habit of letting his pride separate him from his cash winnings. This puts a strain on their relationship. Perez attempts to explain to Harrelson that the cost of winning sometimes is so high that the result is more negative than positive. Harrelson struggles to grasp the meaning of her wisdom, but fails to do so because he does not follow Lesson #2.
There’s one scene in White Men Can’t Jump where Harrelson is playing the Jimi Hendrix song “Purple Haze” in his car. Westley Snipes, Harrelson’s partner in crime, insists that white people might listen to Hendrix but they fail to hear the music. I took this to mean that listening does not necessarily mean that you understand what you are listening to. This also applies to the communication failure between Perez and Harrelson. She wants him to show understanding, yet he often misses her point.
(NOTE: When Harrelson plays the country song “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones, Snipes makes fun of it. Harrelson replies that Snipes is also not hearing the music. Theoretically, if a person genuinely tries to hear any song then he/she should be able to appreciate it on some level, regardless of genre. You may test your hearing skills with these two songs:
Celtic Pride has Daniel Stern and Dan Aykroyd as crazed fans of the Boston Celtics. Damon Wayans is the rival Utah Jazz star player that they kidnap in order to ensure victory for their beloved team. In the film, Stern fails to observe Lesson #2 because he shows little understanding toward his wife’s pleas to tone down his Celtics obsession. Wayans neglects Lesson #2 as well, because he disregards his coach and teammates in order to show off. The kidnapping proves to be a learning experience for them both. Stern learns to appreciate his wife’s concerns, and Wayans learns to appreciate his teammates.
As for Lesson #1, in both films the characters encounter the “winning is losing/losing is winning” scenario. Harrelson decides to play with Snipes against two legendary basketball hustlers, despite promising Perez that he would seek legitimate employment. While they do win and collect a substantial prize, Perez doesn’t stick around. Harrelson is left without a girlfriend or cash, since some gangsters he’s in debt to take his prize money. He still keeps Snipes as a friend, though, so something positive does come out of it.
Stern and Aykroyd are forced to root for the Utah Jazz after Wayans escapes captivity and threatens to turn them in to the police if his team loses. The Jazz do end up winning, but as I mentioned above, Stern becomes a better person for it. His wife even learns to appreciate basketball because her husband doesn’t have to go to jail.
William Shatner is turning 81 today. While most people know him from Star Trek, he had something of a dark period career-wise between the cancellation of the original series and the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This is him talking about the low point, and Star Trek conventions, on the Howard Stern show (starting at about 3:20 on the first video)
Here’s some trailers from the films he appeared in during that time: