Basketball’s not exactly my sport. I’ve always been a fan of Hockey, but I understand that I’m not the target audience for Space Jam – A New Legacy. Watching the movie, I get the feeling that Warner Bros. finally figured out just how large it is. Just as Disney did with Ralph Breaks the Internet, there are tons of references to the WB’s home grown content. Castles from Harry Potter, outfits from The Matrix, Mad Max: Fury Road, Game of Thrones and even Pennywise the Clown make an appearance in the movie. It’s nice to see, but a lot of it pulls away from the story in the same fashion that Ready Player One did. I found I was so busy watching the background that I didn’t care too much about LeBron James and his kid.
Space Jam – A New Legacy does have some new elements. LeBron James (playing himself) is a little at odds with his son, Dom (Cedric Joe). Dom really isn’t into basketball, though he does have a basketball themed video game he’s designing. LeBron would rather he be into the actual sport. When the WB’s AI, known as Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle, Avengers: Endgame) makes a failed pitch to LeBron on behalf of the Warner Bros, he decides to get revenge (and recognition) by way of pulling both Dom and LeBron into the Warnerverse for a basketball game to end all games. If LeBron wins, he gets his son back (who happens to be playing against him), and if he loses, he and the entire audience – everyone – will be trapped inside of the Warnerverse, forever.
Just writing that feels a little strange. Stuck in HBO Max because of a bad basketball game?
Either way, he finds Bugs Bunny and together, they form an All Star team based off of the other Looney Tunes. The film does address one thing I liked. Since they had the entire Warnerverse at their disposal, it would be easier to build a team off of superheroes. The story finds a way around this.
Now, let’s not act like the original Space Jam was ever part of the Criterion Collection. It was a fun film with a major star playing among cartoons. There wasn’t a whole lot to expect, though it was enjoyable and I have the soundtrack for it. Michael Jordan had the benefit of Danny DeVito, Wayne Knight and Bill Murray to help him out for comic relief. Here, it’s more or less just LeBron vs the Goon Squad. When it comes to acting, LeBron James is okay. Most of his lines are centered around informing the toons and the audience that he has to get him back.
I do have to say that Don Cheadle does great here, which is expected. The same can be said for Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery) and Lil Rel Howry (Get Out)There are some moments in A New Legacy that do work (Granny’s scenes in particular are standouts that made me laugh, along with a great Wile E. Coyote Fury Road moment), but that’s only because of the connection between all of the other WB franchises. It’s as if they didn’t feel comfortable enough with the story they had, so they said “Why not just litter the screen with everything we’ve got – King Kong, It, The Matrix, Harry Potter, and see what we get?”
Warner Animation Group does appear to be getting better over their previous attempt in Tom & Jerry. Maybe it’s because it’s easier to interact with cartoon characters that can talk back, but some of the animations (particularly the CGI ones) are good. They’re just incredibly overused. Malcolm D. Lee’s direction is also good, for what he’s given. It’s not Roll Bounce or Undercover Brother, but the flow of the story moves well. Before you know it, you’re in the Big Game.
Space Jam – A New Legacy isn’t the worst thing out there, it’s just stuffed with more content than it needs. It’s not on Tom & Jerry’s level of bad. Besides, it’s for Kids. If you love Basketball, LeBron, Looney Tunes or anything Warner’s Related, you should be good here. Just take it for what it is and enjoy. Thankfully, if you have HBO Max, it’s free to watch for the next 30 days (as of this writing). It just don’t see myself running back to it.