By Charles Kirkland Jr.
Once upon a time, a classic movie was made with one of the undisputed greatest basketball players of all time, then there was a sequel called Space Jam: A New Legacy.
After LeBron James (LeBron James) hears a pitch from Warner Brothers about placing him in a new campaign where they would download his likeness and put him in just about every movie that Warner Brothers makes, past, present and future, James quickly and bluntly rejects the pitch and the algorithm that came up with it. Unbeknownst to Lebron, the program, Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle), takes the rejection personally. He takes revenge by kidnapping his son, Don (Cedric Joe) by downloading him into the Warner Brothers “Server-verse”. He also downloads LeBron and challenges him to a basketball game. When Lebron assembles his team with Looney Tunes characters, he discovers that the game is based on a video game created by his son and that this is a game he has never played before.
With a screenplay written by Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler, Terence Nance, Jesse Gordon, and Celeste Ballard from a story by Taylor, Rettenmaier, Coogler, and Nance and based on the movie Space Jam from Timothy Harris, Steve Rudnick, Herschel Weingrod and Leo Benvenuti, Space Jam: A New Legacy is a comedic action, adventure movie starring James, Cheadle and Joe along with Sonequa Martin-Green, Khris Davis, Lil Rel Howery and Ernie Johnson with the voice talents of Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Klay Thomspon, Nneka Ogwumike, Diana Taurasi, Zendaya, Gabriel Iglesias, Jim Cummings and more. The movie is directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Girls Trip).
This movie is a mess. Most of the acting is horrible. Cheadle is way over the top. He is more of a cartoon than all of the actual Looney Tunes in the film. He is a terribly unconvincing villain. Lebron is so monotonous and wooden in his delivery, he could have passed for the old parquet floor in Boston. Much like he does in his basketball career, James passes off leadership of the movie to Bugs Bunny and surrounds himself with the Looney Tunes as the true stars of his Tune Squad team.
Enough jabs at LeBron, because they do it enough in the film, the true problem with this movie is that despite the number of people involved, the writing is poor. The plot has no depth and no point of reference. They portray LeBron James as an inattentive and domineering father who has no interest in his children outside of teaching them basketball. They shift the stakes of the basketball game to such a ridiculously high level that it makes little sense. Originally, the deal is that the game was being played in order for Lebron to get his son (and himself) out of the game if he wins but then the stakes of the wager are raised to saving millions of people from being trapped in the Server-verse and saving the Toons from being deleted. What? If there are millions of people trapped in the computer world, what is the need for producing entertainment for the world which is why Al G. wants LeBron in the first place?
Additionally, because LeBron is trapped in the Warner Brothers “Server-verse”, the movie can access all of the properties of the Warner Brothers collection so there are scenes from Casablanca and The Matrix and the DC Superheroes world all thrown in. (By the way, why didn’t James recruit the superheroes since the stakes were so high?) Essentially, the movie morphs from Space Jam into Ready Player One where most of the audience at the game are characters from different WB properties from the many decades of the existence of Warner. The question becomes for whom is this movie aimed? Not many children are going to understand the Casablanca reference or The Matrix or the Hanna-Barbera characters or even Pennywise standing at courtside cheering on the Goon Squad. The writers have thrown so much into the movie that it has lost its identity and direction as a children’s movie that adults can like to an experience that tries to be cool to the original movie’s audience 25 years later.
Rated PG for some cartoon violence and some language, Space Jam: A New Legacy is an unfunny children’s movie that pales in comparison to its predecessor. Unfortunately, the new level is low. Somebody should search for Amy Schumer in the crowd cause then the movie could better be called Trainwreck 2.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.