Movie Review: ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ (3rd Opinion)
Plot: When basketball superstar LeBron James and his son Dom (Cedric Joe) are pulled into the Serververse by Warner Bros. algorithm Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), he is given a choice: defeat Al in a basketball game or remain trapped forever. Determined to save his son Dom and foil Al’s plans, LeBron begins assembling a rag-tag group of players from Tune Land including Bugs Bunny (Jeff Bergman), Lola Bunny (Zendaya), Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd (Eric Bauza). With grit and determination King James forges the Looney Tunes into a respectable team. But can James save his son, entertain his millions of Instagram followers, and learn a valuable lesson about life before it is too late?
Review: To misquote the late legendary sci-fi writer Douglas Adams, Space Jam: A New Legacy is bad. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly bad it is. I mean you may think Battlefield Earth is a disaster, but that’s peanuts compared to Space Jam: A New Legacy. Rarely have I seen a film fail on nearly every single level. From the slip-shod and feckless direction of Malcolm D. Lee (who brought the world gems like Undercover Brother and Scary Movie 5), to the puerile script by no less than six writers, to an abysmal editing performance by the usually rock solid Bob Ducsay – I don’t think I can adequately express the absolute trash fire that is Space Jam: A New Legacy.
The hook is the same as the original, in that a world-famous basketball star is forced to compete in a “winner-take-all” basketball game, with fate hanging in the balance. Unfortunately, just because you are a famous athlete, that doesn’t mean you can act. While James is much more natural than Michael Jordan, that doesn’t mean he’s Daniel Day-Lewis. In point of fact, he comes off as quite the jerk, constantly forcing his sons “to put in the work if they want to be great.” The work being of course basketball, even though his younger son Dom aspires to be a video game creator. It’s apparent to everyone on the planet that Dom shows little interest in being great at basketball. Everyone but James that it is.
Of course, Don Cheadle’s Al-G Rhythm (get it it’s funny because it’s a play on algorithm??? Ugghhhhh) finds a way to exploit this after his proposal of copying LeBron James into the server and placing him into various Warner Bros. IPs is roundly rejected by James as stupid. Yet in a glorious self-own, WB decides to do EXACTLY THAT for the rest of the movie. In fact, I couldn’t help but wonder if Warner Bros. studio execs actually wrote and directed this film as Space Jam: A New Legacy takes every opportunity to trot out every IP under the sun from Harry Potter to Game of Thrones.
Further perplexing is how long the audience must wait before Bugs and the gang show up. Nearly a quarter of the movie passes before we get our first “What’s up Doc?” This feels decidedly out of place, considering Space Jam: A New Legacy is supposed to be a kid’s movie. I have to say I was relieved when LeBron arrived in Tune Land as it provided a brief respite from the psychedelic laser light show that was the rest of the Serververse. Space Jam: A New Legacy sports a garish, gaudy color palette that would make Rainbow Brite vomit. I’m just thankful I’m not an epileptic. Additionally, the fact that this movie is nearly two excruciatingly agonizing hours long, where the original came in under ninety minutes, irks me to no end.
One of the elements that made the original Space Jam at least watchable was the presence of Wayne Knight and Bill Murray. Their natural comedic timing and rapport with Michael Jordan offset some of the more stilted elements of the film. Sadly, Space Jam: A New Legacy doesn’t even possess that, settling instead for Slink Johnson and Lil Rel Howery who add virtually nothing to the film. Even the normally stellar Sonequa Martin-Green of Star Trek: Discovery is wasted here. And despite some big names like Steven Yeun and Don Cheadle being in this film, their presence feels like nothing more than an excuse to grab a paycheck.
Now I know some of you may be thinking, “Corrye how can you be so cynical? It’s a kid’s movie! What are you expecting, Shakespeare?!!” Well, I’m not cynical. Raya and the Last Dragon is one of the best films I’ve seen this year and it’s a kid’s movie. Ditto Luca which grows on me with each subsequent viewing. Just because something is quote “a kids movie” doesn’t mean your expectations should be lower than the Mariana Trench. Furthermore, do kids movies have the main attraction for children (the Looney Tunes) show up twenty-seven minutes into the film? Is it a reasonable expectation for ten-year-olds to get references to The Matrix, Casablanca, Mad Max, and Austin Powers? Are kids’ movies supposed to have Pennywise the Clown watching the final showdown in the stands? Let me restate that last one for the people in the back. Pennywise the Clown, the psychotic monster from IT who KILLS CHILDREN is in this movie. Does Warner Bros. even know what an algorithm is?
So, was there anything redeeming about Space Jam: A New Legacy? Yes. At one point during the film my son had a complete meltdown because he was starving. For ten glorious minutes I was able to leave the theater so I could grab him concession pizza. Other than that, Space Jam: A New Legacy is an airball that shouldn’t have been attempted in the first place.
My rating System:
1 God Awful Blind Yourself With Acid Bad
2 Straight Garbage
4 Sub Par
8 Very Good
10 A Must See
Space Jam: A New Legacy rates: 1/10