Space Jam (1995) is considered by many to be a childhood classic! Combining the fantastic use of the Looney Tunes with Michael Jordan’s limited acting abilities, they made a film that has definitely lived up to its ridiculous name. However, they decided to make a sequel to it after spending nearly 20 years in development hell. And Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) definitely could have stayed there.
Lebron James (played by himself) is trying to connect with his game designing son, Dom (played by Cedric Joe), they get sucked into a Matrix-like computer system called the Serververse, run by Al-G Rhythm (played by Don Cheadle). Rhythm abducts Dom in order to motivate Lebron to challenge Al-G in a game of basketball. On his quest for a team, Lebron comes across Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes. With their combined efforts, they must defeat Al-G Rhythm and his Goon Squad in order to save Dom’s son and stop the Tunes from being deleted for good (yep, that’s as complicated as it got).
Okay, this “Trainwreck” had a lot of things wrong with it, but if I am being honest I wasn’t feeling it there, Lebron. I understand you’re not an actor, but I was honestly looking for something fun from you. Seriously, you gave us such high hopes after your performance in Trainwreck (2015), but you’re flatter than sliced bread in this film. It did seem that Cheadle knew what he was getting himself into though, as he hams it up to Kingdom Come! Giving off ridiculous amounts of over the top energy and saying every line as if he were trying to imitate Nicolas Cage’s form of acting. And you know what, I truly enjoyed that!
You know how some product placement is so subtle and blends seamlessly into the story that you don’t even notice? Yeah that’s not the case here. Warner Bros, definitely put their money where their mouth is and decided to put in as many pop culture references and shameless product placements into this boring film in order to attempt to silence the stupidity of it all. Seriously, most of these things don’t even make sense in the story. It’s almost as if they asked the creators of The Emoji Movie (2017) and Michael Bay to collaborate on how to put product placement into a film. They seriously put Rick and Morty and The Night King from Game of Thrones into a PG kids movie! Most kids wouldn’t understand who those fuckers are! The executive producers just decided to try and flex how many cameos they can put into a film! You didn’t need to, you already did that with Ready Player One (2018), that was done better and it actually made sense!
One thing I will give this film credit for is its stunning and immensely realistic visuals, especially during the titular basketball game. They were able to turn the 2D looney cartoons into physically 3-dimensional characters, heck, I almost forgot they were ever cartoons. But they also didn’t lose the spirit of the Looney Tunes either, using their ridiculous slapstick gimmicks to good use. I actually cracked a couple smiles and giggles when the Tunes actually got a little nuts. And yes, I did enjoy Granny’s “bullet time” moment even though it did not make any sense at all. I do have to mention that there is a scene around the beginning of the film where Warner Bros. execs are talking to Lebron about a movie deal with all pop culture characters in the producers own, but shoots down the idea rather quickly and calls it lame and uninspired; which honestly feels like this mirrored real life when negotiations took place, Warner bros just so happened to wave a big enough check for one of the best modern day basketballs stars to take the offer.
There is so much lacking in this film! So much! For starters, the unnecessary sequel 25+ years after the original should’ve been a no go. This was supposed to be a kids movie, yet there is nearly nothing that truly caters to kids. It only gives the opportunity for Warner Bros to try and show off what anyone could watch if they just subscribed to HBO Max if you didn’t already have it. Heart is another thing that is missing from this film, as the father-son conflict feels so surface level that Mr. Clean wiped it off the counter before I finished this sentence. Now, we were never looking for a critically acclaimed award nominee here, but just some fun popcorn escapism like the original Space Jam (1995). But it was lost in translation that we actually desired a sequel to the original! Even if you have a HBO Max subscription just watch the OG film and pretend this one doesn’t exist.