I went into the movie Space Jam: A New Legacy with almost no expectations. It is, after all, a Looney Tunes movie whose target audience is children. I know plenty of you will be ardently opposed to this movie just because it stars LeBron James and thus it’s an affront to Michael Jordan. While I don’t share that sentiment, I get it to an extent. I hope as many of you hate-read this article as people hate-watched the movie, TBH. From here on out the focus is going to be on just the new movie, so if you only opened this to leave a message about MJ>LBJ, the comments section is at the bottom of the page.
LeBron James plays a fictionalized version of himself, basketball superstar/family man. LeBron wants his sons to follow his footsteps into basketball greatness, but his younger son Dom is more interested in computer programming and video game design.
Meanwhile, at Warner Brothers Studios their AI interface, Al G. Rhythm, has the perfect pitch for a collab between WB and LeBron. When LeBron rebukes said pitch it sends Al into a fury, and he goes full Skynet. He sucks LeBron and Dom into the “Server-verse” and sets off to get his way regardless, kidnapping Dom. Al-G challenges LeBron to a basketball game: If LeBron wins, he gets his kid back, but if he loses, he has to take the collaboration deal. LeBron has his pick of the entire WB catalog to build out his squad. LBJ and Bugs Bunny travel throughout the multiverse to assemble the team, reforming the Tune Squad. When it is time for the game, LeBron and Co. learn that they aren’t playing a traditional game, but rather the video game version created by Dom. A high-stakes game ensues.
What I Liked
Don Cheadle absolutely owns the screen whenever he is present. He plays a terrific villain and carries every scene he’s in. Lil Rel Howery providing the color commentary had me cracking up throughout the game. The flock of extras dressed in various WB costumes surrounding the court during the game was also great. My son and I had a fun time pointing out different characters in the background. Finally, I enjoyed a little Walking Dead reunion with Sonequa Martin-Green playing LeBron’s wife and Steven Yeun playing a Warner Brothers executive. There was a great cameo appearance at halftime as well.
It was cheesy and corny, to be sure. That being said, it’s a Looney Tunes movie made for kids. If you were looking for Citizen Kane type of depth, you were watching the wrong film. It boils down to a story about a father and son who just aren’t quite on the same page. Dad wants what’s best for his son but can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to what his son wants. Eventually, dad realizes the error of his ways and finally understands what his son has been trying to tell him all along. It resonated really well with my son, and I’d imagine many other yutes out there.
The WB Multiverse
I really enjoyed how LeBron and Bugs bounced around to different franchises. Seeing the two go from universe to universe was another opportunity for background jokes based on the individual properties. Seeing the Looney Tunes in the DC universe was hilarious as they made LeBron Robin to Bugs’ Batman. The army of extras littered around the court during the game was a ton of fun for us as we watched.
What I Didn’t Like
I’m breaking the rule I laid out in the opening paragraph, because I’m comparing this soundtrack to that of the original movie. That 1996 soundtrack is incredible, it’s an easy no-skip listen. This movie just didn’t have that.
His charactor was just too rigid for my liking. Very one-noted and robotic with a focus being exclusively on basketball and nothing else. I realize that was to help bring together the overall story (something I mentioned above the I liked), but I think his character could have been more interesting without changing the trajectory of the film. Also, that opening scene where a young LeBron throws away his Gameboy like 20 minutes after he got it because coach Avon Barksdale gave him a “pep talk” just wasn’t it.
The 3D Animation
This is just an old man yelling at the clouds moment. I prefer the traditional 2D style we see for a lot of the movie. While the FX were cool in transitioning from 2D to 3D, it’s just not my thing.
In conclusion, I liked the movie. I enjoyed it for what it was, despite some things I didn’t care for too much. As I’ve made a point to call out throughout this review, it’s a movie made for kids. I think one of the fairest ways to end this review is with the feedback I received from my son, who is about to turn six. Here was his direct quote after we finished watching the movie: “I liked LeBron’s epic moves, but I think the first one is better.” As they say, from the mouth of babes comes truth and wisdom. That’s all, folks.
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