Film Review – Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

Title – Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) 

Director – Malcolm D. Lee (Undercover Brother) 

Cast – LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, Sonequa Martin-Green

Plot – NBA superstar LeBron James and his young son Dom (Joe) are pulled into a digital world by evil A.I Al G. Rhythm (Cheadle) where they must compete against one another in a very different and potential world changing game of basketball that is littered with Loony Tunes characters. 

“If we’re going out, we’re going out Looney!”

Review by Eddie on 13/07/2021

There wouldn’t be many proclaiming from the rooftops that 1996’s Michael Jordan/Loony Tunes starring Space Jam is a cinematic masterpiece, but there was an undeniable and energetic charm to that real life/animated hybrid that ensured it became not only a box office hit, but a beloved childhood favourite for many children of the 90’s. 

Operating at the peak of his world dominating powers, Jordan made for a fun leading man in the chaotic toon filled basketball heavy escapade and established his legacy as a once in a lifetime athlete and pop culture phenomenon but wanting to prove his metal as a claim to the throne of the true GOAT of the NBA world, Lakers superstar LeBron James spearheads this modern day take on the Space Jam brand with A New Legacy, a likely box office beast that sadly lacks any of the charm or spark of the original, as you can’t help but feel as though Malcolm D. Lee’s film is nothing but a James love-fest moulded in with a dream Warner Brothers marketing department idea that is going to make some serious money for the company over the coming months/years. 

To be fair, A New Legacy isn’t a complete write-off, upon initially hearing about another Space Jam taking shape under the guidance of James and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler’s hand as a producer, one would’ve been sane enough thinking things could only turn out very badly for all involved but Lee’s film isn’t bereft of decent ideas and fun moments that come and go through its close to two hour run-time and there’s a nostalgic joy getting to once more see the Loony Tunes gang get a moment in the spotlight but thanks to James’s atrocious acting skills, a big collection of flat jokes and an incessant push from the film to cram in as pop culture references as it can allow, A New Legacy is more often than not a chore to sit through and one that potentially will bore its young audience rather than capture the imaginations of them. 

Seemingly taking inspiration from Ready Player One’s rulebook, once James gets sucked into a computer-verse run by Don Cheadle’s delusional A.I Al G. Rhythm and forced to compete in a world changing Basketball match against his own son whilst reuniting a disbanded group of Loony Tunes members, there’s an obsession with A New Legacy to throw everything at as from a cameo point of view with everyone from the Joker, Mad Max and Harry Potter getting a run (or strangely enough for a kids film Austin Powers, Game of Thrones or A Clockwork Orange) and when the film resorts to scenes such as Porky Pig in a rap battle or James and Bugs Bunny going into the Matrix you really do start to wonder what the film is trying to do or who its trying to do it for?

Thankfully for us and for James’s reputation he ends up spending half of the film in animated form, saving us from more high school level of acting talents that would’ve further dampened A New Legacy’s struggle to find itself and stand on its own two legs, as it ends up feeling like nothing more than a reminder to us all that James is the greatest athlete on the planet (did you know?) and that you should probably buy some his or Warner Brothers merchandise if you haven’t already. 

Final Say – 

Saved by a few imaginative scenes and a welcome return from the Loony Tunes gang, Space Jam: A New Legacy suffers badly from Jame’s poor screen presence/acting ability and an inability to find its own identity amongst its endless procession of nods and winks to other properties and brand names. 

2 cases of mistaken identity out of 5 

5 responses to “Film Review – Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

  1. I got a trailer for this in front of Godzilla vs Kong, was surprised to see Ryan Coogler producing it, but I knew it wouldn’t be good. This movie is really comparable to the Wreck It Ralph sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, in that they are just both one giant ad for their parent company (and I’m really baffled by the fact that they’re referencing A Clockwork Orange of all things here).

    The first Space Jam was a movie I watched a lot when I was a little kid, and looking back, I think what made it work was Michael Jordan. The dude was a one of a kind, larger than life living legend, if The Last Dance documentary is anything to go by. The dude was just being himself, and we didn’t need to be constantly reminded of how awesome he is like with LeBron James.

    Part of me thinks that this movie could possibly work if Ryan Coogler was in the director’s chair and if the star was somebody like Kevin Garnett. But suffice to say, I’ll stick with the OG Space Jam and Who Framed Roger Rabbit if I want a blend of classic Looney Tunes and live action. Hell, I might revisit Looney Tunes: Back in Action (it has Brendan Fraser, which puts it a step above this movie).

    • Some valid thoughts here mate!

      I did find the constant need for the film to remind us how great LeBron is to be pretty infuriating. A better director would’ve worked wonder’s as the story had potential but delivery was way off, especially with a lack of genuine laughs.

      • BTW, how was Don Chealde in the movie? From the preview I saw, it looked like he was playing the part as a mix between Simon Phoenix from Demolition Man and SID 6.7 from Virtuosity (yes that’s where my mind went).

        The movie actually popped back up on my radar when I heard about the backlash to the movie for cutting Pepe Le Pew for “promoting rape culture” (even though, if I’m remembering the shorts right, the dude was just handsy and really aggressive in his pursuit for Penelope Pussycat), yet keeping in Alex DeLarge and the Droogs (actual rapists who love a bit of the ol’ ultra-violence) and the nymphomaniac nun from Ken Russell’s The Devils in cameo appearances.

        Honestly, WB letting in a cameo appearance from a movie that they’ve tried to keep buried is simultaneously amazing and baffling.

      • This movie is strange in so many ways!

        I actually found Don Cheadle quite bad in this film, I don’t think his been very good for a few years now TBH but the role he had here was not a good one!

      • Then I highly recommend that you check out No Sudden Move on HBO Max. Cheadle reteams with Steven Soderbergh, and it’s his best work in years.

        Wrote up a review of it on my blog. Would be cool if you could give it a look.

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