Saturday, July 17

Space Jam: The New Legacy Review

Space Jam: A New Legacy

Dir: Malcolm D. Lee

Starring: LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Khris Davis

1h 55m


In 1996, a live-action/animation mash-up called “Space Jam,” featuring the Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan, introduced the Looney Tunes characters to basketball. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and numerous other cartoon characters joined forces to defeat the evil Goon Squad. Michael Jordan was the human character, interacting with the famous Looney Tunes characters while shooting hoops in an animated world. 


Director Malcolm D. Lee, who last helmed “Night School” and “Girls Trip,” works to maintain the zany and comic structure founded by Looney Tunes and featured prominently in the original film. The Warner Bros. intellectual property vault was opened for this film, filling an arena with recognizable characters watching LeBron James play a chaotic basketball game with the Tune Squad. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” aims for a high fun factor, which it achieves in some ways, even if it rarely pushes to be better than the 1996 version.


LeBron James and his son Dom (Cedric Joe) are having difficulty connecting. Lebron wants Dom to focus on his basketball training, teaching the young athlete to work on his skills and partake in summer camps. Dom, however, has interests in video gaming, mainly going to an electronics gaming design camp. LeBron, trying to find a way to connect with his son, brings him to a meeting at Warner Bros. The studio has a sophisticated A.I. program they are trying to develop with LeBron used as the first character in their “server-verse.” The program is operated by an evil algorithm known as Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle), who steals Dom and forces LeBron to play in a basketball game to save him.


The heart of “Space Jam: A New Legacy” exists in the familial drama between LeBron and Dom, a story about growth, maturity, and acceptance for father and son. LeBron, whose acting chops are challenged during the emotional pieces of the story, is best when allowed to be himself. Cedric Joe, playing Dom, holds the performances together with his youthful honesty and innocence. 


The heart is also evident within the nostalgia, for viewers old enough to remember the original film and the connection to the Looney Tunes characters. Time has rendered Bugs Bunny and Company, which were created in the late 1930s, as relics within the world of cartoon animation. Seeing these characters reintroduced for new generations is part of the fun. When Al G. Rhythm calls for an upgrade of the Looney Tunes, their unique animated appearance fits nicely with modern times. 


Still, the script, written by six different people, doesn’t allow much room for story drama or character development. It is more focused on world-building and promoting the Warner Bros. Universe. With King Kong, Iron Giant, The Flintstones, Harry Potter, and even Pennywise making appearances, the Looney Tunes and LeBron get lost in the mix.


“Space Jam: The New Legacy” scores a few great laughs when the film allows the Looney Tunes to indulge in their brand of whacky meta-humor, but there are only a handful of those moments. While it’s amusing for a moment to watch these characters traverse through the many properties in the Warner Bros. archive, “Space Jam: The New Legacy” misses the shot of being a better sequel. 


Monte’s Rating

2.25 out of 5.00

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