Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Starring LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Khris Davis, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Cedric Joe
Having never seen the original Space Jam (1996) I was curious to see if the theater would be full of parents seeking nostalgia with their kids. It was.
Being a bit too old and not a huge fan of the NBA, the original was never on my radar, but its star was an undeniable icon of that generation. Could this new film be, well…a new legacy?
Let’s get this out of the way – LeBron James isn’t an actor, and I don’t believe any of us expect him to be. With all the time it takes to be arguably the best (or second best) player of all time, where would Lebron find the time to hone his acting chops? So thank goodness Space Jam’s antagonist is played by one of today’s most versatile actors, Don Cheadle. In true mustache twirling silliness, Al G. Rhythm is the perfect over-the-top villain to distract us from the sidelining skills of this film’s lead. There will never be a time when we acknowledge King James as a good actor. But for Cedric Joe, who plays Lebron’s son Dom, that day may come sooner than later.
Enough about the live action actors. What about those Looney Toons? Warner Brothers uses this new version of Space Jam to remind us that not only do they have their original lineup, they’ve acquired an impressive roster of I.P. to work with. From King Kong to Pennywise the Clown, Warner Bros is stacked with a cringe-worthy motley crew.
Even more bizarre are the scenes with unkown actors in the background that vaguely resemble franchises. Instead Neo from The Matrix, we get a bunch of people in leather trench coats and sunglasses. Instead of the Mother of Dragons we get a dozen or more Game of Thrones extras. And most disturbing are the courtside Droogs from A Clockwork Orange, probably fresh off of a little of the old ultra-violence. Confused? Me as well. The Looney Toons characters in Space Jam: A New Legacy make more sense than the random WB properties but are almost as equally forgettable. Even the voices seem too far removed from Mel Blanc for me to care.
Sports movies aren’t my thing unless they deftly serve as metaphors for life, like Raging Bull or Field of Dreams. Unfortunately, the only metaphor in Space Jam is a commercial one. No legacy here, just promotional pandering at its worst.
If Scorsese’s boxing film is an A, and Kevin Costner’s baseball film is a B, then This new Space Jam is a D-.