Home Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy (U)

Cast: Cedric Joe, Don Cheadle
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): Tony Rettenmaier, Celeste Ballard, Terence Nance, Keenan Coogler, Juel Taylor, Jesse Gordon
Director: Malcolm D Lee
Release Date: 16/07/2021
Running Time: 115mins
Country: US
Year: 2021

Proud family man LeBron James struggles to connect with his youngest son Dom, who dreams of working with computers rather than following his father's example on the basketball court. That bond is tested when father and son are sucked into a computer server controlled by rogue artificial intelligence Al-G Rhythm. He poisons Dom against his father and forces LeBron to play alongside the Looney Tunes gang in the digital realm against a band of supersized opponents called the Goon Squad.


LondonNet Film Review
Space Jam: A New Legacy (U)

Occasionally, films gift-wrap their own stinging but fair criticism in the midst of the action. Space Jam: A New Legacy extends the hand of generosity in an early scene when Los Angeles Lakers basketball star LeBron James (playing himself) is invited to a film studio’s offices with his agent (Khris Davis) to discuss the possibility of having his body scanned to allow a photo-realistic digital doppelganger to headline blockbusters. “Athletes acting – it never goes well,” deadpans James. It certainly doesn’t in director Malcolm D Lee’s ungainly sequel. Twenty-five years after Michael Jordan slam dunked in Space Jam, James double dribbles with the Looney Tunes gang in two hours of relentless and unabashed self-promotion for Warner Bros…

It’s not sufficient for the script to pepper dialogue with gratuitous mentions of the film company financing this family-oriented fantasy. Logos are embedded in live-action and animated backdrops and intellectual properties from the studio’s vast back catalogue including Austin Powers, Casablanca, Game Of Thrones, Harry Potter, It, Mad Max, The Matrix and the DC Comics cinematic universe are mercilessly pillaged. There is no emotional pay-off or amusing punchline to the rapacious cross-promotion like The LEGO Movie. Instead, constant reminders of superior films and TV series from the vaults make us wish we weren’t stuck with the dull company of Lee’s picture, which preaches self-expression and individuality in the most heavy-handed fashion.

Proud husband and father LeBron James plays ball to provide for his wife Kamiyah (Sonequa Martin-Green) and three children, Darius (Ceyair J Wright), Xosha (Harper Leigh Alexander) and Dom (Cedric Joe). Thirteen-year-old Dom shuns his father’s highly regimented example on the basketball court to chase his dreams of becoming a video game designer. He has already built his first game, DomBall. The bond between father and son is strained when they are sucked into a computer server controlled by rogue artificial intelligence Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle).

The fame-hungry host poisons Dom against his father and forces LeBron to play alongside the Looney Tunes gang including Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny (voiced by Zendaya), Elmer Fudd, Foghorn Leghorn, Gossamer, Granny, Porky Pig, Road Runner, Speedy Gonzalez (Gabriel Iglesias), Sylvester, Tasmanian Devil (Jim Cummings), Tweety Bird, Wile E Coyote and Yosemite Sam. Their supersized opponents, the Goon Squad, are animal-human hybrids of real-life professional basketball stars.

Space Jam: A New Legacy zips excitedly between live-action, digital 3D and hand-drawn animated universes but never finds a steady, pleasing rhythm. Solid performances are left on the bench while director Lee floods the screen with video game stylings to artificially boost animosity on the court. Cheadle’s arch-villain is ineffectual and a classic underdog storyline misses the endorphin rush of a crowd-pleasing grandstand finish. When the Looney Tunes wheel out their catchphrase – “That’s all folks!” – it’s a relief.

– Sarah Lee


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