Space Jam: A New Legacy replaces Michael Jordan with LeBron James while also taking advantage of today’s advances in technology.
The only other difference between this and the original film is a father vs. son storyline. But aside from that, there’s really not much of a difference. Well, I mean Warner Bros. pulls a Ralph Breaks The Internet but taking advantage of all of the studio’s IP in the Server-verse. Some fun parts include Bugs Bunny (Jeff Bergman) getting the whole Looney Tunes band back together. I won’t get into the specifics but the part where they find Yosemite Sam had me falling out of my chair trying to contain myself. When you see this seen on scene, you’ll understand why I had this reaction!
Much like the first film, LeBron James and the Looney Tunes must find a way to defeat Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle) and the Goon Squad. The Goon Squad features digitally upgraded versions of Anthony Davis, Diana Taurasi, Klay Thompson, Nneka Ogwumike, and Damien Lillard. No Bill Murray cameo this time around. The twist to this battle is that King James is pitted against his son, Dom (Cedric Joe). Dom wants to design video games rather than follow his dad into basketball. That Dom wants to do so is dividing the two of them apart.
LeBron does what he can to bond his with his younger son, even bringing him to a meeting at the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank. The gist of this meeting is for a pair of Warner Bros. executives (Steven Yeun, Sarah Silverman) to pitch LeBron on the Warner 3000. Of course, James declines with the decision to choose basketball over entertainment. He could be in any film or television series and yet he decides to stay with playing basketball. Al G. Rhythm does not take this well at all. It’s no surprise, really. Where the first film went for an animated villain, the sequel goes with a digi-villain who presents itself in human form.
Space Jam largely drew on Michael Jordan being away from the game when aliens stole power from the NBA. This film is different. There are NBA and WNBA players making appearances but their power isn’t being stolen. That this film goes into cyberspace to drive the plot forward is what really raises the stakes. There’s going to be fun for everyone but the film is just too long. More on this in a moment. In as much as this film is about LeBron, it’s a showcase for Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny (Zendaya), Daffy Duck, Marvin the Martian, Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Gossamer, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Granny, Yosemite Sam, Taz, and Elmer Fudd. Both Jeff Bergman and Eric Bauza handle most of the voicing.
The game itself bring about so many opportunities for humor. Aside from the on-court antics, we have Ernie Johnson, Jr. and Lil Rel Howery providing commentary from the stands. The former is a pro but the latter certainly could have a career doing sports commentary if acting opportunities thing ever dry up.
Regarding the animation, there’s a mix of both 2D and 3D animation. I think it works for the film and what it’s trying to do. But I must stress that the film’s run time is just too long. The first film barely ran a half hour. This one runs upwards of almost two hours. Press screenings didn’t have previews but those will add up almost another half hour before the film. Even with live-action/animated hybrid films, they should not be longer than 100 minutes at the most.
Space Jam: A New Legacy freshens it up for a new generation but the film offers more of the same while serving up a bloated running time.
DIRECTOR: Malcom D. Lee
SCREENWRITERS: Juel Taylor & Tony Rettenmaier & Keenan Coogler & Terence Nance and Jesse Gordon and Celeste Ballard
CAST: LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Khris Davis, Sonequa Martin-Green, Cedric Joe, Jeff Bergman, Eric Bauza, and Zendaya