At the start of White Men Can't Jump, Billy Hoyle looks around some empty outdoor basketball courts with a smile, lies down with a basketball under his head, and falls asleep. The scene dissolves to the same location, filled with players, and Billy Hoyle is sitting on the sidelines with other spectators, watching the rowdy games.

As far as I know, Billy sleeping was never mentioned again in the movie or resolved. He didn't wake up before the game, he didn't wake up at the end of the movie. I can't believe the movie was supposed to be a dream or a fantasy. Anyone else have an explanation?

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    Maybe he died and went to basketball heaven. Maybe he was added to the Matrix. Or maybe he just took a nap and woke up some time before the next scene. Do movies really have to show people explicitly waking up every time they show someone nod off? Is that what we've come to? "Tom Cruise entered the bathroom, and then we cut to him driving a sports car. The movie never resolved whether he actually relieved himself. Did he have a full bladder for the rest of the movie?" Apr 29, 2016 at 22:09
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    I hear what you're saying. I'm just questioning the use of film conventions. If Tom Cruise enters the bathroom, and then we DISSOLVE TO him driving a sports car, that gives the audience a different message than if he enters the bathroom and we CUT TO him in the sports car. May 10, 2016 at 19:56
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    Like, maybe he fell asleep on the can? May 10, 2016 at 20:04

1 Answer 1


No, it's not a dream. Why?

  1. A dream wouldn't explain how Billy (Woody Harrelson) met Sidney Dean (Wesley Snipes) his partner in the basketball court hustles. Dreams are often populated by people who the dreamer knows or has experienced in some manner; it is rare for a drem to contain people who the dreamer doesn't in anything other than minor roles within the dream itself.
  2. Scenes occur in the film independent of Billy's presence - Even the most detailed dream would only brief periods when the protagonist was not an active part. And these are usually disjointed and poorly structured. Billy's girlfriend, the Jeopardy scenes and especially the interactions between SIdney and his girlfriend would not be probable in a dream.
  3. There's no "closing scene" - For the film to have been a dream or a hallucination, there would have had to been a "closing scene" that clearly delineated the dream from reality. The narrative of film at no point indicates this meaning that everything that occurs in the film is supposed to viewed as existing in the film universe's reality.

The sleeping scene is simply a narrative conceit of the writers that seems to have been left in the film with little supporting structure to connect with the rest of the feature.

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    Also, if it was a dream, he probably would have ended up with Gloria at the end instead of her leaving him ;) Dec 1, 2016 at 1:51
  • I posted this question 7 months ago, but I think it was more a commentary on the confusing use of a common film trope: there's a close-up shot of someone falling asleep, and we dissolve to a different scene to indicate that it's a dream. That's what audiences expect. It was a bad choice to use it to mean something else. Dec 1, 2016 at 18:31
  • I agree. It really throws things following it off as no connection between them is ever established.
    – Mistah Mix
    Dec 1, 2016 at 18:59

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