Space Jam: A New Legacy is front-loaded with amazing Black talent. Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, Lil Rel Howery of Get Out fame, and of course LeBron James. I expected another corporate cash-grab like its predecessor but was genuinely surprised midway through that all the leads were Black. Don’t get me wrong, the film is still a soulless, 2-hour marketing presentation from Warner Bros. but I would be remiss if we here at Super. Black. didn’t shout out a huge movie like Space Jam: A New Legacy for rocking a full complement of Black actors, and LeBron James.
But if it were, I would say it’s pretty much the same experience as the first, with some family drama thrown in. The Looney Tunes feel secondary to Warner Bros.’s attempt to inundate the viewer with every other property they own. A good portion into the film my daughter turned to me and said “When are the Looney Tunes coming back?” and I had no answer for her. She tuned in for the zany tunes and every other part was inconsequential to her.
When the Bugs and the gang show up, they do their customary schtick. It’s nothing any of us haven’t seen before. This time, however, they’re saddled with a glut of Warner Bros. I.P. references. Lola Bunny’s Amazon Warrior training happens for no other reason than to have a W.W. cameo. Now that is over, let’s play basketball. It’s all just a lot of fluff for no reason. But again, this is kids. Then there is the Ready Player One-style marquee of I.P. watching the game. If you have the patience, you can play a game of “Spot The IP”. There is everyone from Iron Giant, to The Mask (who is visible in quite a few background scenes), to Danny DeVito’s version of The Penguin. It’s a lot and I ended up ignoring a lot of it out in favor of trying to pay attention to the chaos already on screen. Your milage may vary.
The parts that were for my old, jaded ass felt contrived and hollow. LeBron’s character is a mean, self-centered father for no good reason, and I actively rooted against him throughout the majority of the movie. He’s even a d-bag to Bugs and the Tunes just for actively being themselves after he asked them for help. The character conflicts feel overly forced, and while I don’t know anything about LeBron James outside of all the dunking and pointless press conferences, I don’t think he treats his own kids with such tyrannical disdain.
Don Cheadle, however, is always spectacular. Mr. Cheadle shows up to play, leaning into the eccentricities of the insecure a.i. Al-G Rhythm. However, the villain’s motivations are never fully revealed which makes the whole conceit of the film fall apart. For example, why would an algorithm want to play basketball for all eternity, and how does that get him the “recognition he deserves”? The rest of the cast is given very little to do since you are here for LeBron and the Tunes. The amazing Sonequa Martin-Green is wasted here, showing up a couple of times to hold a kid and remind LeBron that he has to get their son back. Go watch Star Trek: Discovery to really appreciate this woman’s amazing talent. Lil Rel acts as color commentator beside sportscaster Ernie Johnson and that’s about all I can think of for him.
Now LeBron. He’s fine for someone talking to no one for the majority of 2 hours. And to be fair to him, he reacts a lot better to nothing being there than Michael Jordan did in the first movie. As stated above, his character is a total ass for the vast majority of the film. As the big game kicks off, LeBron is outshone by his son and the CGI Goon Squad, who are literal spiders, snakes, and Chronos, the God of Time. It’s hard for your human-ass dunk to catch someone’s eye when a giant bird version of Anthony Davis is used as a platform for an AI Don Cheadle to dunk off.
I guess this was a review. Anyway, go watch it if you have HBO Max or a hankering to sit in a theater for some reason. It’s harmless, colorful, nonsense that kids will enjoy. My kid had no interest in any other Warner Bros. movies, but she did want to play basketball after watching the movie. So that’s something, I guess.
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