Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) Review
BASKETBALL legend Michael Jordan passes the Space Jam mantle onto Lebron James he steps into the leading role of the sequel, A New Legacy. Despite the 1996 original remaining a cult classic, A New Legacy sadly fails to live up to its 25-year hype.
Father of two Lebron James (as self) wants his son Dom (Cedric Joe) to follow in his illustrious footsteps and pursue a career in professional basketball. However, Dom's dreams lie in the field of video game development, wanting nothing to do with his father's athletic work. When an artificial intelligence named G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) goes rogue and transports himself into the real world, he plays into Dom's dreams and convinces the young boy to join him in the AI world, leading Lebron to transport himself into the fictional world of Warner Bros. There James meets and teams up with Bugs Bunny and Friends where he, coincidentally, must win a basketball game against G Rhythm to save his son, as well as the fictional and real worlds.
Although both have ridiculous, charming plots, one of the reasons the original Space Jam worked was because it played into its ludicrous nature, embracing the Looney Tunes and putting a focus on their interactions with Michael Jordan. A New Legacy, for some obscure reason, decides to go in the complete opposite direction, opting to cram as many references to WB properties as possible such as Mad Max, Rick and Morty, and Game of Thrones. These egregious references start off comical and subtle, but rapidly lose their whimsy and take up majority of the runtime, overshadowing the Looney Tunes in their own movie.
One of the most prominent defences of A New Legacy is "it's a movie for kids". This would be true, but when the film continually references mature and older properties such as Game of Thrones, Mad Max, Casablanca, and Rick and Morty that children under the age of 10 wouldn't understand, it changes the overall tone from a happy go-lucky tale of a father wanting to reconnect with his son into one of blatant propaganda for Warner Bros. Even the humour takes aim at Generation Y by mentioning the origins of Looney Tunes and the adventures they had with Michael Jordan, despite majority of Generation Alpha not having seen the 1996 original, and the humour that younger audiences are treated falls flat on its face thanks to cringe-worthy writing and the lowest common denominator of humour.
While the nostalgia and amusement of Space Jam is mute, A New Legacy, to its credit, does feature impressive and charming visuals, sending audiences back to the 1950s as the style of animation resembles something out of a certain Saturday morning cartoon (I wonder which one?). As well as the 2-D graphics, A New Legacy's updated visuals for the CGI sequences where the Looney Tunes enter the real world are passable, and despite some characters such as Porky Pig not translating in 3-D as well as others do, the film does at least play off their interesting demeanours through quick one-liners.
Michael Jordan's Space Jam was a pioneer for fictional crossovers with real-life personalities, and while Lebron James does as good a job as he can, the magic from the cinematic classic is all but gone courtesy of poor writing, underwhelming stakes and humour that will make the most cheerful of people remain silent. A New Legacy overstays its welcome with an unnecessary 2-hour runtime that not even the Looney Tunes can make entertaining, proving that Space Jam: A New Legacy, while no doubt a financial success, is a critical failure that should hang up its jersey for good.