Space Jam: A New Legacy ★★★★
Malcolm D. Lee
Starring LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, Jeff Bergman, Zendaya, Eric Bauza
The Looney Toons are back for another round of basketball, recruiting NBA superstar: LeBron James to play in Warner Bros two hour kid-friendly intellectual property flex.
James and his son (Cedric Joe) end up trapped inside a digital realm and are forced to settle their differences in an out of this world basketball match hosted by an evil algorithm.
Everyone remembers the original Space Jam with fond memories. Michael Jordan leading the Tune Squad to victory in the 90s in a live action/animation hybrid was perhaps the most 90s thing ever at the time.
I actively avoided watching this out of some sort of nostalgic respect for the original. How dare they attempt to sell us the same premise and expect us to love it just as equally. But this is 2021 and this is a kids movie.
Since the original, Warner Bros have given us Harry Potter, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Matrix and an array of other films and shows that clearly turned on a lightbulb inside an executive producers head.
The conglomerate often pokes fun at itself, promoting a fictional Server-verse controlled by the villainous Al-G Rhythm living inside. Don Cheadle’s take on this hammy malefactor becomes really enjoyable as he parallels the fictional faults of LeBron.
With no acting experience, our protagonist manages to hold his own like his predecessor before him. The career highlights of this living legend in the opening credits help to ground this wackiness into some form of reality and give his acting ability a bit of a safety buffer.
The film wastes no time throwing everything at the wall, and funnily enough, some of it actually sticks. The meta in-jokes appeal to me as an adult as much as the cartoon antics of the Tune Squad did back in the day.
The Live action/Animation is perfectly matched. With so many contrasting styles of movie coming together - it’s weird to say that it never feels unrealistic.
Whilst the story would appear basic on the surface, there is a huge amount of heart lying underneath that prevents this from it’s predicted cash-grab status. Kids will love the next generation of Space Jam and adults may just lose themselves in this world along the way.
Space Jam: A New Legacy available in cinemas now and on HBO Max in the US