They're all tuned up for a rematch.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is a 2021 animated-live action hybrid fantasy sports film directed by Malcolm D. Lee, written by Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler, Terence Nance, Jesse Gordon, and Celeste Ballard, produced by Warner Animation Group, Proximity Media, and The SpringHill Company, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film stars LeBron James and Cedric Joe. It was not nominated for any Academy Awards. This is the second film in the Space Jam franchise. It was preceded by Space Jam.
"Eh...What's up, Doc?" -Bugs Bunny
While trying to mend a trouble relationship between him and his son, LeBron James is sucked into the Warner Bros. server verse and tossed into the world of the Looney Tunes. There, he teams up with Bugs Bunny to defeat the Al G. Rhythm, the evil computer that owns the server verse and who captured and manipulated Dom, LeBron's son. LeBron and Bugs reunite the Tune Squad to play Al G. Rhythm's league of goons in an epic basketball showdown.
Let me be very clear: Space Jam: A New Legacy is not meant for people ages 11+. This is a kids movie that kids will enjoy. I am fully keeping that in mind while writing this review. As a movie critic, though, I have to point out the obvious things that are wrong with the film. I understand that this is not quality cinema and it isn't meant to be, so I am keeping that in mind during the course of this article.
Space Jam: A New Legacy has a couple of very fun things. It does dive deep into the history and filmography of Warner Bros.. There literally scenes from The Matrix, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Casablanca thrown into the middle of the movie. As a film geek, it's exciting to see all of these iconic characters and worlds brought back to the big screen for the film. If you look around, you can always catch characters such as Pennywise and The Mask sitting in the background. I enjoyed that touch and it definitely made me like the film more.
And, as kid-ish as they may be, the Looney Tunes are always fun to watch. Their slapstick acts and zany comedic style are still entertaining to me, and they will definitely put a smile on the faces of younger kids. They also integrate the Looney Tunes into Warner Bros.' films in a pretty fun way. Daffy Duck dressed up and acting like Superman is great.
I also really liked the visuals. The whole movie has a neon feel to it. The vibe of the film is very reminiscent of the film adaptation of Ready Player One. They take characters, such as the Looney Tunes, and make them"live-action", which looks stunning. The design of the Goon Squad is pretty cool, too. I do think that it was bit much at times, but most of the time, I was okay with it.
Finally, there is an absolutely fabulous cameo from a celebrity near the end of the film. It was a great and unexpected little moment that was easily my favorite part of the movie.
And, like Tom & Jerry, this film fails at pretty much every aspect of good filmmaking.
Let's start with the story, which is driven by the villain's plan. The villain's plan doesn't make a shred of sense. His plan starts off very small scale. While there isn't motivation or character depth to him, this goal that he has is a normal goal that you don't really need motivation for. But then, once the basketball game starts, his plan completely changes and endangers the lives of millions of people. It was a harrowing shift in stakes and tone, and I was not a fan.
This plan change also has a domino effect on the rest of the story. It affects other characters and the decisions that they make. And Dom, LeBron's son, makes some really bad decisions based around this plan. Dom is supposed to be a main character and protagonist, but they make him so unlikable and disgusting that it's hard to root for him at all.
Also, the acting here is sub-par. Obviously, when you take LeBron James, who is an NBA superstar, he isn't destined to be an Oscar-winning actor. But the screenwriters should've known this. And it seems like they thought LeBron might actually be a good actor. So they throw in some scenes that are attempting to be emotional, but because of LeBron's terrible acting, they come off as laughable.
And the screenplay is atrocious. The technology and vibe of the film is very modern, and the screenwriters tried to have make some of the scenes and dialogue modern, too. They came up with ideas like: "Let's have Porky Pig participate in a rap battle!" and "Let's have the movie centered around those hip new video games that the kids are always playing!". It's so cringy to even think about.
Since they try to make the movie so much like a video game, the basketball game (which is the entire second hour of the film) is incredibly confusing. While I do like the visuals for the most part, there were times where it almost gave me a pounding headache. It basically looks like a video game. The scoring for the game is also weird, so you have no idea what the score is until they show the scoreboard. It made for a wild back half that I was not a fan of.
And the core problem with the movie is that the main characters simply are not likable. LeBron James has an incredibly talented son that no dad would ever ignore the way that he does. Dom James is twelve and able to make one of the most technologically advanced video games ever. They make LeBron so unrealistic. They make him seem like the worst dad in the world. And it's so utterly ridiculous and unbelievable that I just can't take it seriously.
The movie is also endlessly predictable. It is a kids movie, so that's not a huge problem, but there isn't a moment in the film that will surprise you. Near the end, I thought that, for a moment, they were going to kill off a major character, but even that didn't happen.
Another huge, gaping problem in the movie is that things just happen so that they can move the plot forward. Characters say and do things that do not make sense, but they need to happen so that the next important thing in the movie can happen. For example, there's a point early in the movie where LeBron has to insult something to flesh out Al G.'s plan. But LeBron saying the insult at the point he does make zero sense whatsoever. It just happens so that the plot can continue to develop.
Finally, I watched this film with my eleven-year-old brother, my ten-year-old cousin, and my other seven-year-old cousin. There was maybe one laugh out loud during the entire movie, and that came when Porky was rapping, because it was so ridiculous. The movie doesn't even have base level fart humor. It just has terrible gags and bad jokes that won't even land for most kids.
Analogy and Final Score
Space Jam: A New Legacy is like the worst of fast food. If the original Space Jam is McDonald's, Space Jam: A New Legacy is Subway (I just had a really bad experience at Subway, that's why I say that). It isn't good for you, it isn't tasty, and even the youngest of people won't be the biggest fan of it.
I can't decide whether to go Sour or Moldy on this one, but I'm leaning more toward Moldy. Age range is 5+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Space Jam: A New Legacy"
Fun Factor: 6/10
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Rated PG for rude humor and animated violence and action
Released on July 16, 2021
1 hour and 55 minutes
LeBron James as LeBron James
Cedric Joe as Dominic "Dom" James
Don Cheadle as Al G. Rhythm
Sonequa Martin-Green as Kamiyah James
Khris Davis as Malik
Ceyair J. Wright as Darius James Jeff Bergman as Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Fred Flinstone, Yogi Bear
Eric Bauza as Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, Marvin the Martian
Zendaya as Lola Bunny
Gabriel Iglesias as Speedy Gonzalez
Bob Bergen as Tweety Bird
Candi Milo as Granny
Fred Tatasciore as Taz Ernie Johnson as Ernie Johnson
Lil Rel Howery as Lil Rel Howery
Damian Lillard as Chronos
Anthony Davis as The Brow
Nneka Ogwumike as Arachnneka
Diana Taurasi as White Mamba
Klay Thompson as Wet-Fire