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“Space Jam: A New Legacy”: A Slam Dunk or an Air Ball?

July 16, 2021

I will preface with this, I did watch Space Jam when I was younger but not until I was in high school around 2010 or so, so the nostalgia factor will not be affecting the review for me. I will admit the original Space Jam had a huge impact and a killer soundtrack. However, in the debate between Michael Jordan or Lebron James for the GOAT, it is MJ all day, but this is not ESPN. This is a movie review. Now with those things out of the way, let’s play ball!

Our story begins with a young Lebron James losing a basketball game as a kid. His coach tells him that if he focuses on the game and not his Looney Tunes game on his Nintendo Gameboy that he could become a great player. Fast forward to the present day and Lebron is having issues with his son Dom (Cedric Joe). Lebron is trying to instill his game ethic into Dom when Dom is more interested in creating video games. Lebron takes the advice of his wife and tries to take interest in the game Dom is creating. Meanwhile, the Warner Brothers algorithm Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle) has come up with the perfect plan to expand the Warner Brothers empire and wants Lebron to head up this plan. Lebron takes Dom to his meeting with the Warner Brothers executives. Al G. shares his plan with Lebron and Lebron calls the plan stupid. Al G. is very offended by this, so he lures Lebron and Dom into the mainframe. You can see where this is going – time to play a basketball game. Al G. kidnaps Dom and offers Lebron a deal. If Lebron wins, he and Dom can leave. If Al G. wins, Lebron is stuck in the Warner Brothers server and forced to make content for Warner Brothers forever. Lebron is sent to the realm of the Looney Tunes to begin to recruit a team while Al G. tries to turn Dom against his dad. Lebron meets Bugs Bunny who has his own plan on reuniting the Looney Tunes who have been sent throughout the Warner Verse (is that a thing? I guess in this movie it’s a thing). The team is formed and it’s now the game of the century. Father vs. Son. Who will come out on top?

Family and letting those you love to follow their passions instead of your ideas are at the core of this movie. Lebron pushes Dom hard like the way he was pushed when he was a kid. No surprise that by the end, Lebron sees his issues and continues to strive to be a better father and support Dom’s dream. The story, while mostly predictable, is incredibly fun and they use the full Warner Brothers library at their disposal. I thought it would be too cheesy (and I talk about this later) but surprisingly the movie (mostly) used it to their advantage with the Looney Tunes and it is hilarious, with references from a lot of movies I didn’t expect to see and even some random but surprising cameos. The game during the second half of the movie is a lot of fun and they still can find a way to make it more unique from the first Space Jam. There is also a sacrifice from a character, and I was impressed with his arc in the story, from imposing his selfish plan to sacrificing his life to save everyone and win the game. A second viewing might be necessary to notice all the fun little details that could easily be missed.

I do have some minor problems with this movie, but I will start by saying the problems this movie is being redeemed by the Looney Tunes. I feel like Warner Brothers are trying to toot their own horn and advertise the rest of their HBO Max library. They do make up for it by trying to be a little meta to poke fun at themselves and the fact that the bad guy is a Warner Brothers creation gone rogue.  Some parts feel very forced but other aspects are fun and you forget those minor issues. My other issue is that this movie at the beginning kind of feels like Lebron’s answer to Michael Jordan’s “The Last Dance” documentary. He should have waited for a better opportunity – not a movie like this to make his case for his legacy. However, these things aren’t a buzzkill, and the rest of the movie mostly makes up for it.

That being said, Space Jam: A New Legacy won’t go down in cinematic history as a masterpiece or overshadow the first Space Jam (Sorry Lebron), but it is an entertaining, fun movie that everyone can enjoy as long as your go in with the intention of not comparing it to the original Space Jam every ten seconds. I had a fun time watching it and easily excused the issues it had for the sake of it being enjoyable. I’m going to give Space Jam: A New Legacy a three and a half out of five but an “It’s not Citizen Kane but you’ll have a blast” three and a half out of five. Just watch it on HBO Max and not in theaters to save a few bucks. 3.5/5.

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