Space Jam: A New Legacy is what it is and doesn’t pretend to be what it ain’t

I must be perfectly frank. I not only don’t like basketball, I loathe all sports in general. Football, basketball, hockey, synchronized swimming, Inuit tug-of-war… I despise it all. When I was growing up in West Texas, everything revolved around sports — around games — and I had it shoved down my throat from the time I was an infant to today. I hate everything to do with sports. It’s like black eyed peas. It was forced on me as a kid, so I hate it as an adult.

To be honest, I barely even know who Lebron James is. I know he exists, but if you were to ask me what team he plays on, I wouldn’t know. Heck, I just watched an entire movie about him and still don’t know. I’m not a superfan… I’m the opposite. I’m a non-superfan. If I passed Lebron James on the street, I probably wouldn’t even recognize him.

I do love the Looney Toons, though, and that’s the reason why I watched this movie. It’s the reason why I watched the original Space Jam, that 90 minute highlight reel of bad acting and jokes landing like bricks.

It’s the only reason.

So, Space Jam: A New Legacy promises Lebron James playing basketball with Bugs Bunny and the Looney Toons and that is precisely what it does. You can’t hate it… it has an energy and an infectious vibrancy. It is colorful, flashy, and fun and obviously has a lot of fun doing what it does. You can’t help but get caught up in it.

James is, by every measurable sense, a better fit for this kind of movie than Michael Jordan ever was. James is more charismatic and he can actually act where Jordan felt like he was droning on like a low flying airplane. Now, that being said… Lebron James isn’t an actor either. A lot of his deliveries, particularly the ones where he had to shout or scream, were hilariously flat to the point that I did laugh at them. Still, you get the feeling that he actually wanted to be there which is more than I can say for Michael Jordan.

Fight me.

For the finale of the movie, the big basketball game, the Looney Toons are rendered in 3D CGI and, honestly… it is a little jarring. Don’t get me wrong, they actually looked pretty good for being CGI, but when you go that route, cartoony characters like Bugs Bunny lose elasticity and freedom of movement. They become more – even tenuously so – bound to the boring rules of physics and it just makes the less fun. I really hope this is a one-off stunt or, if Warner Brothers goes with this style in the future, they bring in the animators from the Hotel Transylvania movies as they’re the only ones who seem to do toony CGI correctly.

There are a lot of cameos in this movie… a lot… a looooooot of cameos. Given that the movie takes place in the Warner Brothers servers, it’s understandable, but during a musical montage of Bugs Bunny going from world to world to find the Looney Toons, I found myself wishing that more of the movie was about that and less about basketball.

But, then again… I hate basketball.

There is a supposedly emotional subplot about Lebron James accepting that his son is going to be an independent person and it ends just like you know it’s going to. It’s there for conflict and screen time. I would have rather seen more Roadrunner, to be honest.

Listen, this movie delivers what it promises. I can’t hate it for that and, if anything, I admire its ability to take a dumb concept like the sequel to a feature length shoe commercial from the 90’s and expand it into something big and shamelessly bombastic.

This isn’t Shakespeare and it never pretended to be. This is Space Jam and it’s perfectly fine.

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