Space Jam: A New Legacy

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Space Jam starred Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan. Now 25 years later, Space Jam: A New Legacy stars Bugs Bunny and LeBron James. LeBron was 11 years old back in 1996 when the original came out. He was the perfect age for that movie…and this one.

While the first film was pretty zany, it’s downright calm and composed compared to this sequel. The villain here is Don Cheadle as Al-G Rhythm — a play on the word “algorithm.” The pun is appropriate because he’s the artificial intelligence inside the Warner Brothers computer server. Al-G is angry that LeBron James doesn’t respond well to his movie deal idea. In retaliation, Al-G kidnaps LeBron and his son Dom (Cedric Joe) into his virtual reality. Then he has them each play on opposite sides of a computer simulation of a basketball game that includes the Looney Tunes on one side and the Goon Squad on the other. Confused? Welcome to the club.

The high point occurs about 30 minutes in when LeBron is sent to Tune World to round up a team. There he becomes a 2D cartoon version of himself. He meets Bugs Bunny and he’s flattered to find out the rabbit knows who he is. That’s amusing. So are their introductory moments that recall Bugs’ famous shorts. Ultimately they travel to different worlds based on Warner Bros properties to assemble a team of Looney Tunes (Lola Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig, Wile E Coyote, Road Runner, Speedy Gonzales, Daffy Duck, Taz, Elmer Fudd, Granny, Marvin the Martian, Tweety Bird, Gossamer, Sylvester, and Foghorn Leghorn). Yeah, there’s a lot of characters. Ah but we’re just getting started.

The 2D animation is indeed charming, but the feeling is short-lived. Just before the tournament begins, Al-G declares it’s time for an upgrade and turns everyone into 3D CGI versions of themselves. LeBron goes back to being himself. Then their opponents — the aforementioned Goon Squad — are introduced. They’re genetic mutations of players from the NBA and WNBA with special superpowers. There’s the Brow (Anthony Davis), Chronos (Damian Lillard), Wet-Fire (Klay Thompson), Arachnneka (Nneka Ogwumike), and White Mamba (Diana Taurasi). The spectacle grows even more incoherent.

The story is rather simple when you distill it down to its bare essence. The byzantine machinations are merely an excuse to have a big showdown on the basketball court. The thing is, this isn’t basketball. It’s a computerized imitation of the sport, so none of the rules apply. There is a court and occasionally someone dribbles an inflated rubber object, but that is where the similarities end. The battle is so chaotic and bizarre with the flying and the CGI and video game manipulations my eyes didn’t know where to look.

Also vying for your attention are the spectators watching the competition. Director Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip, Night School) is working from a screenplay credited to a whopping SIX writers. I’d be willing to wager there were even more given the complete disarray of ideas. They’ve decided to highlight a huge crowd made up of characters from the movies of Warner Brothers past. You’ll see Batman, The Mask, the Wicked Witch of the West & a flying monkey from The Wizard of Oz, Pennywise the clown from It, and hundreds of other properties that they own — but without context or emotion. It feels like a piece of corporate product designed to advertise their vast array of entertainment choices. Additionally, you’re constantly seeing these people in the background, so the bystanders take focus away from the central event. Even the violent gang from A Clockwork Orange in their bowler hats is enjoying the match. I’m so glad they were, because I wasn’t.

Last week, The Onion — the satirical online website — published an article: “6-Year-Old Debating Whether To See ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy Following Negative ‘New York Times’ Review.” Hilarious and I get it. This movie certainly wasn’t made for me. If you have kids under 12 they might enjoy all the silliness. It is colorful.

07-16-21

12 Responses to “Space Jam: A New Legacy”

  1. Yes I’m really not sure how to feel about the bizarre inclusion of the Droogies and Mad Max. Aren’t those adult properties?? Lol. That if anything is the proof you need to argue all this movie is is a massive commercial for WB. I mean, I’m sure nothing confrontational happens with those elements. But there’s no way the younger audience, the much larger part of the audience, is going to understand those references.

    I’ll probably see this, as I’m a pretty big LeBron fan but I just know this is going to be rough going.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Speaking of adult properties… characters from The Devils appear in the film. This was the 1971 British historical drama written and directed by Ken Russell. It infamously earned an X rating and was banned in several countries. No child will get the reference, and quite frankly most adults won’t get the obscure inclusion either. 😳

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      • See?? Lebron knows his movies, too!!

        (I wish sarcasm didn’t translate so poorly in text. I’m also a pretty decent Lebron James fan, and I wish he didn’t do this movie.)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually gave this 3 ⭐️. I was able to understand the chaos. I still love Bugs Bunny so I can’t go against the Looney Tunes. I was fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. agreed with your review Mark. you mentioned the sport here being “chaotic and bizarre”. that was one drawback of this movie. they could have kept the gameplay closer to basketball (those red circles making players jump high was unnecessary). the movie could have been quite good because the performances and story were fine, i thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny because the classic movie insult is “It’s like a video game.” This film fully embraced the idea and it wasn’t a good thing. Those “red circles” were distracting.

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  4. Sunayna Prasad Says:

    I actually enjoyed “Space Jam 2” and want to watch it again, but can’t find it anywhere. Also, even though it’s rated PG, I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for kids under 12. There are some mature words here and there.

    Like

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