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I Was Prepared to Dislike Space Jam: A New Legacy but the Opposite Happened

Jeff Bergman and LeBron James in Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

Space Jam: A New Legacy has gotten some very negative reviews online, and every clip I saw go viral about the movie on Twitter prepared me for a cringe-fest that was one long HBO Max commercial. While in many ways A New Legacy is a commercial for HBO Max and Warner Bros., I also found myself enjoying how unprecious Warner Bros. was with some of their biggest properties.

There is a part of me that feels like if I say that I think Space Jam: A New Legacy is a good movie that it’ll be kicking any cred I might have in the toilet, but as the film kept moving, I was waiting for the dystopian horror that I’d seen critics talk about.

Was LeBron James an exceptional actor? No. But he was, in my opinion, better than Jordan, and I love how fully he committed to the fun of it. When he meets Bugs Bunny, he is excited and goes, “Bugs Bunny knows who I am?” Jordan was very much the straight man in his Space Jam. There is a lot more goofy, playful energy with LeBron, and I found that charming.

Also, let’s get to all the clips of the Looney Tunes with other Warner Bros. movies. The viral clips that some users shared on Twitter were really random, and we don’t know why the Tunes were there. The film explains that they all left Tune World because it was pretty much defunct content-wise, and only Bugs was left. So all the Tunes went to other IPs, and honestly, the cameos are funny because they make some sense. I don’t want to spoil them all, especially not the Lola one, but it is not the random inserts that some might think it is.

I mean, for Daffy’s alone, you get the whole Justice League Unlimited art style, and all the 2D animation was truly excellent.

The original Space Jam was a comeback movie for Jordan and a big piece for his NBA friends. This sequel is more of a family movie.

LeBron struggles to connect with his son Dom because Dom wants to pursue gaming while LeBron is pushing for basketball camp. They get into a fight during a meeting at Warner Bros and are dragged into the ServerVerse by the evil rogue artificial intelligence (AI) Al-G Rhythm, played by Don Cheadle, who is having the most fun.

The stakes are that if LeBron loses, Al-G will delete the Tunes, and LeBron will be imprisoned into the server forever. It is a simple story, but the relationship between LeBron and his fictionalized son makes it work.

Space Jam while nostalgic and beloved by a generation, is not a “good” movie. What makes it work is knowing it is silly and allowing yourself to enjoy the weird blending of these two worlds: basketball and Looney Tunes. I have always loved Space Jam and as I’ve gotten older and able to pick at its flaws, I’ve never felt a desire to pick it apart because I find it is more charming than harmful.

That’s how I feel about A New Legacy. So much of the self-referential humor is still there, just on a bigger scale. I mean, there is a Chappelle’s Show joke with Granny, and I very much laughed out loud. I was actively waiting for this film to fill me with the indignity I’ve seen others have, and maybe something is wrong with me, but I didn’t feel it. I liked this movie.

I enjoyed the Black family elements, and frankly, this felt like more of a Black animated film than Soul and I thought the humor hit. Were elements of it corny? Absolutely, but this is also a film trying to nostalgia my generation and bring in younger audiences. I think it’ll do that, and that’s why—despite negative reviews—it is doing well.

Does this mean that I think some of the tougher critics are wrong? No. I think I was looking for something different and found it in this film. Plus, while, yes, Warner Bros. is showing off all its IPs, Disney does that all the time, and we eat it up. They just made a six-episode series that is a long exposition for the next phase of their MCU. The big difference is that Warner Bros allowed it to get very looney, and I think it paid off.

(image: Warner Bros.)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.