‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ Review: Long-Awaited Sequel Is Far Worse Than We Feared

However you imagined a sequel to a 1996 movie would be, I can assure you this is worse.

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is the sequel to the 1996 cult classic “Space Jam” which starred Michael Jordan. This new rendition features LeBron James, and follows him on his quest to team up with the Looney Toons to defeat a rogue A.I. program (Don Cheadle). Khris Davis, Sonequa Martin-Green, Jeff Bergman, Eric Bauza, and Zendaya also star while Malcolm D. Lee directs.

I wasn’t a massive fan of the original “Space Jam” film growing up but like most 90s kids I put it on from time to time. I recently rewatched it to prepare for the sequel and it remains a nice piece of looney pie (even if my nostalgia glasses forbid from criticizing it objectively). It shouldn’t have been too hard to top the initial film in quality, yet somehow, despite a proven charismatic guy like LeBron James and Oscar-nominated “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler producing, this is much, much worse.

There is not a single performance in this film that could be described as good. LeBron James was arguably the high point of 2015’s “Trainwreck” where he played a fictionalized version of himself, so he should’ve been able to carry Michael Jordan’s torch without breaking a sweat. However, mark “selling a performance in a ‘Space Jam’ movie” down as just another thing the GOAT does better than James, because LeBron delivers lines like he’s a hostage in an ISIS video. He’s so stoic and his comedic timing in all but maybe two jokes is way off.

The rest of the cast is just as bland, with the only exception maybe being Don Cheadle. He’s having a ball playing the bad guy, and he doesn’t just chew scenery, he eats it whole. Still, a lot of the time it’s awkward since Cheadle is acting alone in front of a green screen. The effects here overall are actually pretty bad, and this film plays out in many ways like it’s stuck in 2004.

This film has six total writers, which makes it incredibly shocking there are so few jokes, or even what seem like attempts at jokes. The plot is more or less the same as the first film, with the exception of a quick “Avengers: Endgame” world hopping of Warner Bros. IPs. Which reminds me…

I have never seen a “movie” be so up-front and shameless with its product placement and self-promotion. Characters sit in front of Warner Bros. movie posters, LeBron has a meeting with Warner Bros. execs where we are reminded of all the franchises Warner Bros. owns, and the climactic basketball game is played in front of famed Warner Bros. characters (dressed in cheap $12 Spirit of Halloween store costumes). There’s also a scene where LeBron falls into a Nike swoosh-shaped hole, but that’s for another day. The first film literally has a line of dialogue that says “slip on your Hanes, lace up your Nikes, take your Wheaties and your Gatorade, and we’ll grab a Big Mac on the way to the ballpark” and it’s still not as in your face as this.

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is far worse than any of us feared, and isn’t even fun-bad or ironically entertaining to watch. It’s a shameless attempt to disguise an HBO Max commercial as a movie, a movie that was already inherently a cash grab. There is no reason to seek this film out: fans of the original will be upset it is nothing like what they remembered loving, while everyday normal filmgoers will be upset it is a bad movie.

Critics Rating: 3/10

Warner Bros.

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