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'Space Jam: A New Legacy' (2021) is Far from a Slam Dunk

The Tunes hit the court 25 years later, and instead of focusing on nothing but net, Space Jam: A New Legacy is nothing worthwhile.

Those who were dazzled by basketball star Michael Jordan as he crosses worlds with the collective of Looney Tunes view one of today's most popular athletes joining forces with the Tunes once again as a passing of the torch to a new generation - or perhaps, a new legacy. The premise may be teeming with nostalgia, but the execution of the questionable reboot is an airball.


Space Jam: A New Legacy feels as if it is more of an elaborate internet prank than it is a serious redoing of a beloved live-action and animation hybrid. LeBron James is void of his personality and is presented as far-from-joyful, centering himself around basketball, and pressuring his children to carry the household name through the sport. In total contrast to James' last on-screen presence in the form of an extended cameo in Trainwreck (2015), hilarity is far and few between. Instead, he's trapped within the "Serververse," a Ready Player One-like layered take on Warner Bros. licensing right after licensing right tacked onto each other.

Warner Bros. overstuffs their contemporary take with as many properties as they can, and ultimately loses sight of who this movie is for, and what it sets out to achieve. Don Cheadles' overcomplicated algorithmic villain, Al G. Rhythm, is far too complex for a PG-Rated audience, spoon-feeding every step of his plans to make sure that young viewers can keep up with what he's about to do. There isn't just the classic array of Tunes at the sequel's disposal and the studio makes sure to include every inch of their plethora of properties from A Clockwork Orange (1971)'s gang of droogs, to killer clown Pennywise. Why? That's an excellent question. There's no concrete answer as to why the nuns from Ken Russell's X-Rated The Devils (1971) are seen cheering courtside next to many versions of Catwoman and the Penguin.

There's still that team-up match that A New Legacy advertises the most, where James, Bunny, and the Tune Squad take on James' fictional son Dom James (Cedric Joe) in order to spark his love of the game, not just video gaming. The effort to mend misunderstandings between father and son isn't as convincing, even if they repair their bond after all. It seems as if them not seeing eye-to-eye should sit at the heart of the plot, but is a mere second thought as the opportunity to flaunt a collection of unrelated characters is the first-rate priority. Children are easy to please with the broad slapstick and general loudness of A New Legacy, but for their adult accompaniments, the second take on a sentimental movie is a chore, especially without Bill Murray.

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