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“Space Jam: A New Legacy” review

David Eckstein-Schoemann, Reporter

It’s the sequel to one of the most 90’s things to have come out of the 90s, its Space Jam: A New Legacy. It stars Lebron James, the classic Looney Tunes, and a whole bunch of Warner Bros properties that somehow make this feel more like a 90s film than it already is.

 Space Jam A New Legacy gained a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 4.3/10 on IMDb

 The film centers on Lebron, a basketball champion who has trouble getting his son Dom into the sport as he’s more interested in video games. If that generation feud wasn’t enough, Dom gets trapped in a device called the Warner 3000 Server-Verse, which is run by an evil A.I. named Al-G Rhythm (played by Don Cheadle). Seeing as how the only way to get home is by winning a basketball game, Lebron has to lead the Looney Tunes to win the match, rescue his son, and showcase all sorts of Warners Bros. characters. 

 If you grew up in the late ’90s or early 2000s, then chances are you grew up with the first film. Like many people, I watched it numerous times whenever it aired on television. However, I don’t get into it as it was obviously made as a big promotion. Even though I loved the Looney Tunes, Michael Jordan, and Nikes I couldn’t overlook the fact that the film was one big cliched commercial. Despite my initial feelings, I have grown to appreciate it more over time as a time capsule from that decade. It has all the 90s elements and tropes, which aren’t timeless but still create a nostalgic connection to the people who grew up with them. As you can imagine, it grew a cult following, which eventually resulted in this sequel.

 My thoughts for this film are generally the same as the first one, as it also runs on many the same tropes and even beats as the original. To give you an idea, it starts with Lebron as the sports-obsessed father, who is trying to force basketball onto his son, who wants to be himself and create video games. You can tell what’s going to happen going forward. You know there’s going to be a disagreement between the father and son. You know they’re going to be separated by some big villain. You know the villain will try to turn the son to his side, as the father does everything he can to win him back and accept him for who he is. It’s all stuff you can predict very quickly.

Even the acting here, while not bad, can still lead to odd lines and even strange deliveries. I know it’s “Space Jam 2”, and it’s not something that people are going to put all their effort into. But it goes to a point where a lot of the reactions aren’t how most people would act in these situations. For example, there’s a scene where Lebron is repeatedly tossed around through Toon world by Bugs Bunny, and the vocals don’t sound like he’s going through anything that big or dangerous. This is ironic because the cartoon characters have a lot more range than the actual characters.

Okay, it’s evident that the story and performances aren’t this movie’s focus. Its main goal is to have another famous Basketball star play a game with the Looney Tunes and be goofy while appealing to kids. With all the characters they incorporate here, It’s clear that this film is very pandering. Just count how many times they say “Warner Bros.” here. It’s definitely a big-budget commercial like the first one. Which everyone expects out of something like “Space Jam.” But the question is how well it pulls it off? To me, there are several creative moments sprinkled throughout that make it worth it. Particularly in the middle with the Looney Tunes characters in the other Warner Bros. worlds.

I do like the setup of all the other Looney Tunes exploring other Warner Bros. properties, while Bugs being the main character, stays because that’s where he belongs. Many cartoon characters are portrayed faithfully to their personalities, and they are placed in worlds that are both creative and funny. 

Some of my favorite parts include Daffy Duck impersonating Superman while causing crimes so he can record himself saving people. The Tasmanian Devil being dropped off by Rick and Morty completely caught me off guard. Even scenes like Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner in “Mad Max: Fury Road” were genuinely hilarious. While these setups are well thought out, there are a few moments that do make you cringe at how the studio is trying to appeal to the “hip crowd.” For example, you have Granny saying “Haters gonna hate” or Porky Pig rapping as “Notorious P.I.G.” Segments like those do make you roll your eyes, but I feel there’s enough funny material to be found here. 

The animation aspect might be the best part of the movie. The trailers were misleading as people thought it was going to be primarily computer-generated. But they find the right balance between hand-drawn and CG. The hand-drawn scenes for the Looney Tunes are naturally very energetic and creative. Even when they become computer-generated for the climax, they look excellent. 

The climax of this film plays out similarly to the first film. The primary difference being it’s being spectated by all sorts of Warner Bros. characters. It’s very much like “Ready Player One,” where you have all these characters and easter eggs in the background. I paused the film numerous times to see how many characters they had here. While they don’t have lines and mainly act like audiences screaming in the background, they still act like their characters. For example, you have Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze from “Batman and Robin” acting like a complete nutcase, or Voldemort doing dramatic hand poses in the background. While pausing it, I noticed that a lot of them looked like cosplays of people dressed to look like the characters. They were hit and miss as some looked fine, but others looked obviously fake. Though I still give credit to the number of characters they have here. They have characters like King Kong, Iron Giant, Batman, The Mask, Pennywise, the Animaniacs, and the list goes on. 

I feel like this movie would have been a lot cooler if they had incorporated them more in the climax. The villain’s team is led by these avatars made to move like animals, elements, etc. They are cool for a bit and are animated well, but I wish they could have used Warner Bros. villain characters as the bad guy’s team. Imagine having the classic Looney Tunes playing basketball with Warner Bros. most iconic villains and how cool that would be. Why even have this idea be “Space Jam,” you can have it be where the Looney Tunes go to these different worlds and interact with these popular and classic films and shows. As far as entertainment value goes, that’s the most inventive thing about this movie. I know I might be going out of control with what the filmmakers were allowed to do and not do. But if you’re going all out with this concept, at least go all the way. 

While it’s not a good movie, it still has some creative elements. The best way I can sum up my thoughts is if the first film was the most 1996 thing ever made, this film is the most 2021 thing ever made. Do I think it will develop a cult following like the original? Probably not. But I still think it’s deserving of at least one viewing because the stuff with the Looney Tunes was fun enough to where I could see those scenes again. Take that for what it’s worth.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Spinnaker Sails.

________

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