Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy

The very first shot of Space Jam: A New Legacy is a close up on somebody’s face delivering dialogue in mid conversation. There is nothing to indicate the environment the characters are in, no establishing shots, not even a few seconds of breathing time to acclimate you to the film’s world after sitting through the logos – it just starts. This laziness is apparent throughout the entire film (as is its inability to distinguish the process of storytelling from a showreel of slick corporate iconography) but it’s especially noticeable here, in what is potentially the most unprofessional opening to a major Hollywood release since Justice League (at least an army of underpaid CGI artists didn’t have to painstakingly remove LeBron’s mum’s moustache frame by frame, I guess I’ll take what I can get).

Anyway, this was absolutely wretched in every way imaginable and I have many, many thoughts:

- How does this feel more dated than the Space Jam that came out 25 years ago? A Matrix bullet time joke and a scene where Porky Pig rap battles someone in the same movie? In 2021? When was this written? More importantly, who is this for?

- LeBron is such a non-entity that his fake son easily out-performs him in his own vanity project, and said fake son is fairly mediocre as far as child actors go. At least Don Cheadle was there? He looked like he was having fun.

- Remember when these big spectacle movies used to at least be aesthetically pleasing? The original Space Jam was full of weird creative choices and intricate visual gags; it looked and felt expensive. This thing looks like a fucking toothpaste commercial from 2006. All antiseptic greenscreen backgrounds and basic shot set-ups with very little variation or technical flair - not a single frame rises above perfunctory.

- At least 50-60% of this movie is fan service and the fan service is terrible. Why splice the Looney Tunes into The Matrix and Fury Road if they aren’t going to interact with those environments in any inventive ways? Why have Rick and Morty show up if you won’t let them say anything funny? Why put nearly every recognizable Warner-owned character in the background of your big climax if they’re just going to look like shitty cosplayers who are obviously confused as to what they’re supposed to be reacting to? If every movie has to be some excessively bloated pop culture jerk-off session now you’d think they’d at least try and find ways of keeping that idea exciting instead of doing the literal bare minimum.

- If you need any indication as to how bad the humour is here, there’s a moment where Daffy Duck looks directly to camera and says “well that happened!” like it’s a fucking episode of Full House.

- I full-on hate what they did to Lola Bunny in this – not because the design was changed or because her character in the original was by any stretch great, I just loathe the cynical way she’s rewritten into the most boring, generic version of a “strong female character” imaginable. Why not use the opportunity to write her some good jokes for once? She’s a god damn Looney Tune, make her looney!

- I really thought Don Cheadle’s villain would have a redemption arc because he seemed kind of pathetic and more in need of validation than anything else but no, he straight-up fucking dies at the end and then everybody cheers. Bleak shit.

- The climax to the film’s emotional arc where LeBron is forced to verse his fake son in a game of basketball is completely underwhelming and overall the emotional stakes just feel incredibly low throughout. LeBron is unlikeable because he barely tries to reason with his son, relying entirely on his basketball skills to save the day while LeBron’s son is also unlikeable because he doesn’t seem to care that everybody’s lives are at stake if he wins. Neither really learn their lesson and because of that the resolution feels hollow (emotionally it would have made more sense for LeBron to sacrifice his victory but plot-wise that wouldn’t work because he’s on the good guy team so the whole thing is just a mess).

- Bugs Bunny used to be such a crazy, ruthless motherfucker. What happened to him? When did he get so soft? Can children not handle irreverence anymore, is that too much? Fuck this movie and fuck that disingenuous sappy ending. #notmybugs

Watching Space Jam: A New Legacy is like watching a hideous Lovecraftian monster that holds only a vague contempt for the concept of human beings attempt to mimic their behaviour for some nefarious otherworldly purpose – the lack of soul in every miserable second of this film is utterly draining and at an interminable runtime of 115 minutes I can safely say that it’s high up on my list of movies that I never want to see again. I haven’t even touched on the crass commercialism of releasing a 150-million-dollar tentpole blockbuster that’s essentially just a feature-length advertisement for Warner Media’s streaming service HBO Max but I feel as though that’s so blatantly apparent it’s barely worth getting into. This is a cynical, ugly film in just about every regard and I’ve exhausted most of my vocabulary so I’ll just leave it there; don’t watch this, go for a walk or catch up with a friend or do literally anything else instead. The Looney Tunes deserve better and so do you.

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