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  • Writer's pictureMartin Cheney

Space Jam: A New Legacy


The film review depository app Letterboxd tells me Space Jam: A New Legacy is the 666th film I have ever seen. That might as well be the end of this review.

Even as someone who isn't really interested in Disney movies (or indeed most animated films) or anything remotely heartwarming, I'm no curmudgeon. My penchant for the grittier things can be easily won over by the right combination of heart, joyfulness, optimism and sincerity, even if the narrative doesn't hold much water. Being such a fan of the original Space Jam as a child meant that I went into this next generation's offering with open arms, ready to forgive nonsensical plot devices, bad acting and cheesy writing in the name of nostalgia. However, after suffering and sighing through all 115 interminable minutes of this bafflingly obnoxious garbage bin of a movie, all I was left with was a single question: "HOW can such an irrepressibly loud and colourful movie be SO BORING?"

I barely even know where to begin. Firstly, let's get LeBron James out of the way. I was not expecting him to turn in an Oscar-worthy performance. I was not even expecting to say, "oh wow, he's actually not a terrible actor for an athlete." I was, however, at least expecting him to seem as though he had met the actor playing his son (Cedric Joe) before the first day of shooting. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. Maybe the haze of nostalgia is clouding how bad Michael Jordan's performance was in the original (I'm very willing to concede that it is), but look, I'm 33 years old now and you're probably reading this because you have at least a passing interest in my opinion, and my opinion is that LeBron James is a terrible actor (but, if he's reading this, a wonderful basketballer - hey LeBron!).

You may notice that I've neglected to give a summary of the synopsis so far. The reason for that is that, even in a universe where it's possible for human beings to be absorbed into a computer, the story still hardly makes any sense. There are just about as many plot holes as you could hope to find in a regulation basketball net. One of the gimmicks of the story, which I'm sure seemed DREADFULLY CLEVER on paper, is that the server capable of assimilating people takes on a pseudo-human form that goes by the name of...Al-G Rhythm (*vomits*), played by a surprisingly awful Don Cheadle. This server is housed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, CA for literally no reason other than to explain why there is an incessant and nauseating barrage of references to virtually every single piece of WB intellectual property that exists. (Pennywise, you're better than that.)

Have you ever found yourself thinking, 'you know what, I wish there was a version of The Matrix where Trinity was played by Granny from Looney Tunes'? Me neither, but now you don't have to dream - it's in Space Jam: A New Legacy, and it's exactly as funny as it sounds. To really hammer my point home, I think that sounds spectacularly unfunny. This is just one of the numerous parody scenes we are treated to as the original Looney Tunes gang are recruited one-by-one to join the climactic basketball game that LeBron must win in order to save his son from the tyrannical algorithm. I think some other things happen along the way, but I found myself checking my phone a few times and staring into the middle distance with despair, so I probably missed some of it. Also LeBron dabs at one point. Then the aforementioned basketball game happens. This game lasts for approximately six years (as long as most actual sport games), but having already lost the will to live by the time tip-off comes around, what should be the most exciting part of the film is what ultimately keeps reminding you that the film hasn't finished yet.

One of the greatest sources of disappointment for me was the complete lack of joy I felt about revisiting any of my favourite Looney Tunes characters. Either their voice acting was just bad/different enough to be distracting or the rendering just a bit too detailed to remind me of the original 2D characters (or both). Either way, I never got the sense that I was taking a walk down memory lane, but rather watching a new fan-dangled version of something that didn't need fixing. Heck, maybe I'm a curmudgeon after all. I know the film is subtitled A New Legacy, but it spent so much effort trying to hearken back to the original legacy while ushering in a new one that it ended up forgetting to do either of them properly. I would have been more willing to forgive that, though, if it hadn't also been such a steaming pile of dribble in nearly every other way. It is such an annoying film to watch.

You may well be wondering why I gave this film half a star if I hated it so much. It's because there's a sort of meta-joke about Michael Jordan that got a chuckle out of me, and some of the animation looks very, very cool when it's not literally assaulting your eyes. Those two factors got it all the way to a full star, but then about 80% of the dialogue was written and so I was given no choice but to downgrade my rating. As an example, at one point LeBron James falls through a digital floor and Mr. Rhythm quips, "looks like he fell for it." I mean.

Please don't misunderstand me. I know there is an audience for this film. The young family in front of us was having a great time. But this is, and Marty absolutely hated this movie.


Space Jam: A New Legacy is in cinemas now.

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