Welcome to the Space Jam… but tots on fleek for the gucci crowd. When LeBron James’ son is sucked into the Warner Bros. archive by an eeeevil algorithm, James has to team up with some Looney Toons to try to stop the dastardly plan. Can he beat the baddie at bball (and perhaps learn to be a better dad, awww) before it’s too late? Find out in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
How?! LeBron James is a bad dad. He’s all pressuring his son Dom to focus on basketball and not his real dumb dumb video games that never made anyone any money. Only basketball makes money. But Dom doesn’t just like video games, he like likes video games… like loves video games. He’s like a coding whiz and really wants to go to coding camp, but LeBron James is like “no, coding isn’t a real job like basketball.” Anyway, he feels bad for being a bad dad, so he takes Dom along to Warner Bros to check out a new offer: they want to use an algorithm to insert him into all kinds of sweet, sweet IP. LeBron is like no thanks, but the algorithm, which has taken on a life of its own and is named Al-G Rhythm, is not having it. He sucks LeBron and Dom into the Warner Bros computer and challenges LeBron to a basketball game. If he wins he gets to take over the world using LeBron’s brand. If he loses he sets them free. With that, LeBron is sent to Looney Tunes land where he meets up with Bugs Bunny. With Bugs’ help, LeBron gathers a team, although not exactly the team he was thinking. They are the rest of the Looney Tunes, who had been scattered across the universe by Al-G. LeBron is all “No, all fundamentals all day, no looney things or nothing,” and the Tunes agree (but they aren’t happy about it… kinda like Dom… hmmmmm). When the game starts, LeBron is shocked to see that Dom is the star of Al-G’s team and that the rest of the team are evil cartoon versions of his fellow NBA and WNBA superstars. They proceed to get shellacked and LeBron begins to learn and becomes a good dad. First he lets the Looney Tunes be real looney and they mount a comeback. Then, when Al-G starts to take it out on Dom, he apologizes and Dom forgives him. Finally, with the game on the line, LeBron decides to exploit a glitch in the system he learned from Dom. But it would kill him! So Bugs takes it instead and through the magic of being a great dad LeBron wins! In the end we see Bugs Bunny die and become a star in the sky (for real), LeBron drops Dom off at coding camp to become a great dad, and finally Bugs shows up because obviously he didn’t actually die. THE END.
Why?! Al-G is an algorithm that wants to have more influence on the world. For the moment he simply influences Warner Bros IP, but he wants to do more and he sees LeBron as the way to do that. He would hijack his followers and use his brand to take over the world (and maybe even break free of the confines of the WB computer? That part is a little fuzzy). So why doesn’t he just do that rather than challenge LeBron to basketball? That’s unclear. It has something to do with trapping a bunch of people in the WB computer for some reason, but otherwise I don’t know. Revenge? Anyway, LeBron just wants to be a great dad and teach everyone the fundamentals of basketball.
Who?! Obviously lots of athletes show up. LeBron is the main one, but then like Diana Turasi, Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, etc. in cameos (and cameo might even be generous given how little they are in the film). It did get me curious as to how many roles LeBron James has had in major motion pictures. So far it’s three, with a fourth in the works. Interesting that MJ only did Space Jam and Kobe appeared once in a credited role (as himself). LeBron is already closer to Shaq than those guys in terms of acting.
What?! The film is more of a film placement within a WB commercial. Still, beyond that the products are almost too numerous to count. Nike is sprinkled everywhere, including a giant Nike swoosh that appears when cartoon LeBron smashes into Looney Tunes world. And then all kinds of video game stuff, like E3 and Nintendo, show up, including my personal fave: a flydigi controller for playing games on your phone. I just like when something weird shows up in a major movie like this and you can wonder why.
Where?! We open with an establishing shot of LeBron and all his greatest achievements, including The Decision, which seems to appear unironically. We go through Cleveland and Miami and all that, but obviously it takes place in the present day when LeBron is in LA. To be more specific, the film primarily takes place in a computer on the Warner Bros Studio lot. A.
When?! We actually do kinda get a date for this. It all takes place in the week leading up to E3, since Dom wants to attend E3’s video game design program for kids. That would place this in early June. Seeing as LeBron is just bumming around taking meetings at Warner Bros, I assume in this fictional universe the Lakers were eliminated early in the playoffs. Otherwise he should be in the middle of the finals. B
I’m not gonna sit here and pretend this is a good movie. We spend the first third of the film with Bad Dad LeBron basically listening to a pitch about Space Jam 2 and being like “dumb, no thanks.” Then the middle third is just animated LeBron bipping and bopping around with the Tunes. Finally, the last third gets us to the basketball game, which isn’t really basketball, but some other hip new DomBall or whatever. What I’m saying is that this is no doubt about it some dumb stuff. BUT, I think when you boil it down you just have to ask whether you like to watch the Looney Tunes do Looney Tunes things and whether you like to see Bad Dad LeBron become Better Dad LeBron. If neither of those things are to your liking (or if you are particularly bothered by product placement), then it’s not the film for you. I personally found that the weirder it got (looking at you Don Cheadle) the more I kinda liked it and the more they leaned into the cheesy dad stuff the more it worked overall. Unfortunately that was like 40 minutes of a 2 hour film. So still not great. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! We’ve got the looniest of tunes! We’ve got the kingliest of kings! We’ve got a kind-of-sort-of-not-really basketball game! We’ve got Space Jam: A New Legacy. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – Needless to say the last two years have been sparse for BMT. We had to completely cancel BMT Live! last year because nothing was coming to theatres. This year we lucked out and several wide release films seem to be debuting same-day on streaming services. And HBO Max delivered us a qualifying Space Jam sequel from on high. Praise the Al-G Rhythm! What were my expectations? I knew quite a bit about the complaints concerning the film going into the viewing. Lucky for me I watched Space Jam maybe seven years ago and realized then that it is pretty boring. So I figured I would like this more than most people seem to, but also probably wouldn’t actually like it.
The Good – I actually didn’t mind the WB clips as much as others seemed to have online, they were so short with decent costumes and effects that they worked for me. I loved loved loved Don Cheadle as the villain Al-G Rhythm (get it?). He was having incredible amounts of fun and seemed to know how to play just the right amount of winking at the camera to make the story work better than it should have. And the Looney Tunes are fun, even if most of them didn’t have much to do. Best Bit: Don Cheadle by a long way.
The Bad – The beginning paints LeBron as a bad parent and that was kind of weird as it took a long time to get to the redemption bit. I also wish they had went the Space Jam route where you are supposed to imagine Michael Jordan lives in a two bedroom house in North Carolina or whatever, instead LeBron lives in the most enormously gaudy mansion imaginable. The middle bit suffers because LeBron spends most of it as a cartoon which seemed like a cop out for either time or money or both. And the final basketball game lacked any tension because it wasn’t actually basketball meaning you could score 1000 points in the blink of an eye. And for the climax of the film the Looney Tunes are only-decent-looking CGI instead of looking hand drawn. Oh, and, spoilers, they fake-kill Bugs Bunny? That was odd. Jesus, and I didn’t even get to the comicon-level costumes for the WB characters watching the final basketball game! There is a lot not to like about the film compared to Space Jam. Fatal Flaw: I think allowing LeBron to be a cartoon for the bulk of the film is its biggest crime.
The BMT – Compared to the original it lacks charm by dropping the ball four different times and on almost every level. But compared to the original it isn’t boring as well for the most part. Don Cheadle maybe saves the whole thing from being a complete catastrophe. I think I’m somewhat immune to the insane A+ Produce Placement from WB because I’ve seen both The Emoji Movie and Ralph Breaks the Internet which both effectively do the same thing, but even grosser since those only seem to serve mega-corporations. Did it meet my expectations? I did indeed like it more than a lot of people online I think. Basically I think this was a mid-30% on RT, not a mid-20% like it ended up being. Space Jam is an appropriate mid-40%. Would I watch a third Space Jam? … I guess.
Roast-radamus – I think there is definitely a Planchet (Who?) in Khris Davis who plays LeBron’s friend Malik whose sole purpose seems to be to be a goober and not do anything right. Let’s not even get started on Product Placement (What?) for the entirety of the WB cinematic library. And a nod for Worst Twist (How?) for the inevitable switcheroo of Dom James joining the Tune Squad and then getting to go to the E3 Game Dev Camp. It’ll obviously get play in the Live! section and it probably in the BMT category in the end.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Uh oh, looks like it is time for the return of the BMT Crossover Episode. In the second Space Jam we saw Al-G Rhythm defeated by LeBron and Dom James, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone. On no. He’s only laying in wait until a new superstar supreme enters his life. And you guessed it, that man is Sasha Petrosevitch. Al-G Rhythm plans on capturing the digital essence of Sasha and holding a worldwide Aikido tournament to, once again, win the hearts and minds of the world and ultimately rule it. Well, Sasha won’t be having that! He decides to go digital, and forms a rag tag group of WB properties to Aikido alongside him against the Goon Squad (composed of eeeeeeeevil versions of the only person that could possibly pose a threat to Sasha in martial arts skill … himself!). And you bettah belieb that he’s going to aikido chop his way to victory. It’s called Akido Jam: Half Past Digital.
Live Theatrical Review – Obviously I didn’t get to watch this in theaters, but instead on HBO Max. Does it feel different? Honestly, it kind of does. I’m not sure how I would have felt if I had shelled out 15 dollars to go sit in a theater with a bunch of annoying people to watch this film. I would have almost definitely walked out with that sick feeling of “what the hell am I doing with my life.” Is it really BMT Live! without that feeling? I did enjoy getting to watch a new film in the comfort of my home and the comfort of my own schedule though. And I’m not one to be precious about the theatrical experience, but it seems likely that if I had seen this film in theaters I would have had different feelings than “meh, whatever, it was okay right?”. B. I’ll have to watch a few more “theatrical” films outside of the theater before I can have a true verdict as to whether the feeling is the same, or whether it can’t really count as “Live” without being live.