Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy

In Theatres: 
Jul 16, 2021
Running Time: 
115 minutes

The Space Jam franchise is not something you watch for its plot. Just as the original was used to sell Michael Jordan and his sponsorships, Space Jam: A New Legacy is a selling tool for LeBron James and even more heavy-footed, the Warner Bros. catalogue of IPs. It’s a visual barrage that overwhelms the senses, which would be okay if there was any aspect of the film that was entertaining and fun. Unfortunately Space Jam: A New Legacy is a painful and cringey mess that puts up nothing but airballs.


Basketball superstar LeBron James has spent his entire life devoted to honing his skills on the court and becoming the best there is at the game. To him, silly things like video games are only a distraction. While his oldest son Darius (Ceyair J. Wright) has the same hussle and drive as him, his youngest Dom (Cedric Joe) actually has a passion for video games and has even programmed his own online basketball game in his spare time. This causes some tension between the two as LeBron prepares his sons for basketball camp. Darius is cool with it, but Dom would rather go to an E3 coding camp that is at the same time. In the meantime, during a pitch at Warner Bros., LeBron is introduced to the studio’s new A.I., Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), that would digitally put him into any kind of movie he wanted, making him the biggest superstar in the world. After passing on the opportunity, the A.I. goes rogue and digitizes LeBron and kidnaps Dom in order to get him to change his mind. He forces LeBron to play a basketball game streamed live to the entire world through his social media account. LeBron must recruit his team of players from the Warner Bros. server and beat Al-G and his Goon Squad in order to save his son.


Space Jam: A New Legacy is this weird movie that struggles with its identity. It attempts to cater to both kids with its lowbrow humor and Looney Tune antics, and the adults with the nostalgic factor of the original film, but it fails miserably at both. The overuse of all of Warner Bros. properties is apparent. While Looney Tunes is at its core, the film brings in all of the studio’s other big IPs. Characters like Superman or The Iron Giant make perfect sense, but when the characters are animated into clips from The Matrix or Mad Max: Fury Road it begins to cross the line. It’s clearly meant to give the adults who bring their children to the theater something to watch, but good luck trying to explain who the droogs from A Clockwork Orange are to your 7-year-old. Not only does it all feel like it’s done in bad taste, but it’s not done particularly well, either. The big basketball stage looks like it's surrounded by a bunch of characters pulled from a Party City commercial with Pennywise reacting alongside flying monkeys, pirates, Batman villains, and a whole slew of other characters from WB films. It’s all so cringy and exploitative.


The story doesn’t fare any better, either. Al-G Rhythm is definitely the bad guy, but LeBron James is hardly the good guy. Al-G is impressed by Dom’s programming abilities and convinces him to be the captain of the Goon Squad. So in order for LeBron to “save” his son, he has to absolutely destroy him in a game of basketball. It all just feels strange as you don’t want to root for anyone. The film does have a central theme of being yourself, although it’s bizarre when LeBron has to change himself and act more “Looney” in order to defeat the Goon Squad. Nothing with the film has solid footing. The story, humor, and characters all stumble around the court grasping at balls in the hopes that something will land near in hoop. There is one moment in the second half of the film that was enjoyable and managed to find the balance between nostalgia and childish humor, but it hardly is worth the whole price of admission.


As a fan of the original Space Jam, I was hoping that A New Legacy would at least deliver something that was fun and entertaining at even the basic levels. Alas, LeBron and everyone else involved need to go back to their fundamentals. Space Jam: A New Legacy is painful to watch for all audiences alike.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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