I’m not sure what I was expecting from a new sequel to the1996 hit movie Space Jam? The original isn’t a great movie but it’s a serviceable family comedy carried mainly by how much I love the Looney Tunes. Now we have this sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy and I’d say the exact same thing: It’s not a great movie but it’s serviceable carried by how much I love the Looney Tunes. If you want a truly great Looney Tunes entry check out the recent Looney Tunes Cartoons on hbo max. Those are something special. This movie is just ok.
In Space Jam: A New Legacy they replace Michael Jordan with Lebron James and have him on a quest to find his son and save him from the clutches of Al-G Rhythm played by Don Cheadle (in an over the top performance I had fun with). Some have compared this story to Stephen Spielberg’s Hook and they aren’t wrong there. I didn’t mind that plot device for the story but it did feel a little too serious and somber for a movie with crazy cartoon antics I seem to be the only one who enjoyed Tom and Jerry this year but that film kept a more consistent tone.
I also seem to enjoy callbacks to IP in projects more than most critics. It can be cringy, but for example, I enjoyed the Disney characters in Ralph Breaks the Internet or The Shining sequence in Ready Player One. Other people seem very annoyed by these scenes, and I can understand why, but for whatever reason they amuse me. The same is true here. I liked when they are going through the ‘Warner-verse’ and collecting the Looney Tunes members from other Warner Bros films. It was clever and funny, for example, when they get Lola from Wonder Woman or Road Runner from Mad Max Fury Road.
That said, I don’t understand who this movie was made for? Why would they have scenes like Mad Max Fury Road that’s an R rated film? They also have characters from movies like A Clockwork Orange, Game of Thrones, It and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. What are they all doing in there? I’m not sure if the movie was made for kids today or for people my age who grew up with the original? When there are plenty of PG-12 and under IP out there why use these R rated characters? Weird?
I really enjoyed the different animation styles within Space Jam: A New Legacy. We get live action 2D and CGI as well as animation that changes with the different worlds they are in. For example, while in DC World we get a comic book panel inspired design as they try to recruit Superman. I didn’t even mind the CGI animation as it was fresh and new.
Once the basketball game starts the laughs work well. I particularly enjoyed a joke at the halftime that I will not spoil for you. Whenever it tries to be sentimental it doesn’t work. Lebron is fine in the lighter sections but doesn’t have the acting chops for the more tender moments. It does have a nice message about being yourself and supporting our loved ones in their dreams but the dramatic beats made the movie feel long (it is too much at 115 minutes).
Space Jam: A New Legacy is coming out same day in theater and on HBO Max and I think the latter is where it belongs. It has just enough laughs to be enjoyable but not enough for the big bucks of the theatrical experience. However, if you like the Looney Tunes, like I do, than it is worth a watch.
Even if not perfect it’s great to have the team back together again.
6 out of 10