Space Jam: A New Legacy is yet another sequel that nobody asked for, a harmless mess with meta-references and cameos by the boatload while outdoing itself in cringe and camp without any wit.
The original Space Jam (1996) is beloved by many for nostalgic reasons and its memorable moments. Like everything nowadays, it was likely that a reimagined sequel would make its way whether you would like it or not. Twenty-five years after the basketball GOAT, Michael Jordan, defeated the Monstars, Warner Brothers tries to rekindle the energy and charm of the original with Space Jam: A New Legacy. However, the LeBron James-led sequel feels more like an airball at the free-throw line than a slam dunk. Welcome to the jam!
After his young son, Dom (Cedric Joe), is captured and placed in a digital realm called the ServerVerse by a rogue AI, Al G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), NBA superstar LeBron James must team up with Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the Looney Tunes crew to form the Tune Squad. They’ll have to play an all-or-nothing basketball game against Al G’s powerful, digital lineup of “champions of the court” named the Goon Squad to get home safely. Furthermore, Al G wants to steal LeBron’s Instagram followers.
The film’s narrative is its main problem; the plot makes absolutely no sense at all. It is pure nonsense; Don Cheadle’s character must come onto the screen and explain what is going on every chance he can. It seems like the film did not even have a plan; even the basketball game runs without rules or discipline. LeBron, one of the friendliest people in basketball, is written in the film as a jerk for some reason; he berates his son for not liking basketball and the Looney Tunes.
Like Ready Player One (2018), the film’s main attraction is the surge of nostalgia. It tries to bring everything it can to the table, hence its many Warner Bros IP references. Spielberg’s movie was a mess, but it had some minor entertainment value to it, and the virtual-reality duality of life was interesting, right until the narrative kicked in. Both do not have a purpose of really existing rather than to make people remember this and that. Space Jam: A New Legacy outdoes Ready Player One to a great extent; the final product looking like propaganda to sign up for HBO MAX.
They “rescue” Looney Tunes members from different Warner Bros properties like The Matrix (1999), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Casablanca (1942), and Harry Potter (2001), with some cameos feeling weird being in a PG film. Who would have imagined that LeBron James will be playing basketball, and one of the people cheering him on is the evil clown Pennywise? Cameos like the Droogs from Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), Jane from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962), and a nun from Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) also make an appearance.
In the end, Space Jam: A New Legacy is propaganda for Warner Bros product placements. Kids will most probably enjoy the film, but it still lacks enough vitality to suspend its lengthy runtime. There is no apparent reason for a movie like this to go for over two hours, and it takes up to thirty minutes to introduce the cherished Looney Tunes, and when they do, the film feels like a headache. Bugs Bunny and crew are not at fault, nor is LeBron James, who delivers even more charisma and enthusiasm than Jordan in the original.
Malcolm D. Lee’s Space Jam: A New Legacy tries to crossover and reach high potential with its $150+ million budget and lovable characters. Instead, it breaks its ankles. Some of the fun comes from Don Cheadle having a blast with his role and looking around for some randomly put film references that should not be in the film. The rest is flat and uninteresting with a side-dish of cringe and excessive campiness.
After the original idea for “Space Jam 2” was canceled, there was an idea for a spy film titled “Spy Jam” starring Jackie Chan, but he left the project and it evolved into Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).