Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

Movie Title: Space Jam: A New Legacy

Year Released: 2021

Rated: PG

Runtime: 2h

Genre: Sports, Comedy

Director: Malcolm D. Lee

Writer: Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler, Terence Nance

Starring: LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Khris Davis, Sonequa Martin-Green, Cedric Joe, Jeff Bergman, Eric Bauza, Zendaya, Bob Bergen, Candi Milo, Gabriel Iglesias, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Nneka Ogwumike, Diana Taurasi, Rosario Dawson, Justin Roiland, Ceyair J. Wright, Harper Leigh Alexander, Ernie Johnson, Lil Rey Howery, Xosha Roquemore, Wood Harris, Sarah Silverman, Steven Yeun, Michael B. Jordan

Review: Superstar LeBron James and his young son, Dom (Cedric Joe), get trapped in digital space by a rogue AI (Don Cheadle). To get home safely, LeBron teams up with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang for a high-stakes basketball game against the AI's digitized champions of the court -- a powered-up roster called the Goon Squad.

Space Jam: A New Legacy is the long-awaited sequel to the infamous Michael Jordan-led, Looney Tunes film of the mid '90s, Space Jam. The debate for who is the greatest basketball player of all time almost always centers around Michael Jordan and LeBron James (Spoiler Alert: It's MJ), so it's only natural that LeBron be the player to take on a new crop of talent-stealing, animated freaks of nature. Only this time, the Monstars are long gone and are being replaced by The Goon Squad (Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Nneka Ogwumike, Diana Taurasi). Don Cheadle plays the villain here as Al-G Rhythm, the leader of the Serververse. This universe where Al-G reigns supreme somewhat renders itself as a digital playground reminiscent of the OASIS in Ready Player One. I love Don Cheadle, but this character is odd to say the least. It appears he's trying to pit LeBron and his son against each other in a game of digital basketball within the Serververse, in an effort to steal LeBron's social media audience. As we all know, in the digital age in which we currently live, one's social media footprint is of utmost importance. How the times have changed. All Swackhammer wanted was to spruce up his Moron Mountain theme park by turning Michael Jordan into a sideshow clown. But now we have LeBron vs. the internet. Or something like that.

What ultimately ensues is LeBron rounding up the Looney Tunes for this epic battle of Dom Ball, a video game created by LeBron's son. Along the way, we are treated to about a zillion homages to LeBron's sponsors and other Warner Brothers properties. Nike is featured prominently. Plus, the WB gang is all here including Harry Potter, Harley Quinn, Rick & Morty (Justin Roiland), Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone, Space Ghost, The Matrix, Superman, Batman, King Kong, the Pink Panther, Pennywise the killer clown, Austin Powers, The Mask, the droogs from A Clockwork Orange, the Night King from Game of Thrones, and Rosey the robot maid from The Jetsons. I'm probably leaving out a bunch of others as well. The first few cameos are fun and exciting, but after a while it feels like you're repeatedly being hit over the head with some kind of oversized Looney Tunes sledgehammer.

Space Jam: A New Legacy effectively becomes a propaganda piece -- A 120-minute advertisement for LeBron James, Nike, and Warner Brothers with all the flair and antics that Bugs Bunny and his friends can muster. Even the game scenes are hard to follow, as I was more preoccupied with finding Easter eggs in the crowd than paying attention to anything happening on the court. With all of that said, this movie isn't entirely bad. The Looney Tunes are inherently funny. Their overexaggerated shenanigans and basketball strategies are fun to watch. There's also a great message to this film to implore young people to follow their dreams, whatever they may be. Space Jam: A New Legacy is a wild ride of unabashed self-promotion and has an abundance of silliness that only the Looney Tunes can deliver. It missed the mark on many things, but I admittedly laughed a lot, and enjoyed many gags in the film. Kids will love this film, but fans of the first film may feel a bit indifferent. Give it a watch, and decide for yourself!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: The first full length Looney Tunes theatrical film since Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), released 18 years prior.


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