Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene but some pictures in the mid-credits
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film
Space Jam: A New Legacy Review –
When there are 25 years between entries in a film franchise, there is always a fear of who will be your target audience. Are you trying to bring in new fans, or are you catering for those who liked the last film? Today we get a movie that tried to bridge both groups with an entertaining film for kids but filled with moments that only the parents will get.
So to set the scene, we open in Akron, Ohio, in 1998. A young LeBron (Stephen Kankole) is practising, but his coach thinks his head is not in the game, and he has to ditch all the distractions. One montage of LeBron’s career later, and a now champion LeBron James (LeBron James) is raising a family. While he is all about basketball, his son Dominic “Dom” James (Cedric Joe) likes to code and has built a video game. This is heading towards conflict when at Warner Brother Studios, their inbuilt algorithm Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) has devised a plan. A plan that pits son against father and makes the Looney Tunes fight for their very lives.
From the moment they enter the ‘Serververse’ (note: this is not the worst ‘verse’ I have heard, but it does not flow off the tongue), you know this will be a film that will lean into the weirdness of the situation, which is confirmed when Bugs Bunny (Jeff Bergman) makes his first entrance. They go hard in bringing an audience that might not know the Looney Tunes up to date with how they work. While this happens, the film goes to some deep cuts of Looney Tunes lore and the general WB filmography. There might be one of the best ‘get the gang back together’ montages in this film that had the entire audience in stitches.
The joy of watching all the Looney Tunes is a delight, the banter between Daffy Duck (Eric Bauza) and Porky Pig (Eric Bauza), the running gag of Marvin the Martian (Eric Bauza), and everything that Granny (Candi Milo) does. The actual emotional weight does not come from the toons but from a father and a child trying to understand each other. It is here where the film’s emotional crux lies, and I think where its strength lies. This works because everyone is going for broke, with a clear shout out to Don Cheadle, who is eating all the scenery.
There is a level of confidence with this film because it does not paint WB in the best light, but they have gone all in here. I mean, this is a film that will hard cut from Mad Max Fury Road to Casablanca without missing a beat. For the kids, I think this will just be some weird moments that they will probably not get but will be fun. But for the adults in the audience, there will be some deep nostalgia brought up from that time where every film had its take on the Matrix slo-mo scene. It made all the more enjoyable because it is the Looney Tunes in all the scenes.
If there are some missteps, it comes in the animation towards the end. Honestly, I think the film did a better job of creating LeBron James as a toon than 3Ding the Looney Tunes. Thankfully, it is not a bad job, I mean, ILM does not do bad, but it does not reach the level of Detective Pikachu. Also, the film brings the whole WB universe into the mix, and while it is nice to see renditions of classic cartoons like the Animaniacs. However, they didn’t get the original actors or comp in the actual footage in the big basketball battle. This means that we get what amounts to a lot of bad cosplay, which would be fine in the wide shots, but this film loves its cut-ins. I’m not sure that will be a problem for its target audience because they will likely miss it, which is good. After all, it will limit the questions about A Clockwork Orange.
In the end, do we recommend Space Jam: A New Legacy? Well, let’s be clear, this is not a revolutionary tale in any shape and form. However, there is a good message here that I appreciated. Also, the kids will have a blast, and the parents will have a nostalgic blast. If you liked Space Jam, you might also like our look at our favourite Animated Films.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Space Jam: A New Legacy
Directed by – Malcolm D. Lee
Story by – Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler & Terence Nance
Screenplay by – Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler, Terence Nance, Jesse Gordon & Celeste Ballard
Based on – Space Jam by Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, Timothy Harris & Herschel Weingrod
Looney Tunes by Warner Bros.
Music by – Kris Bowers
Cinematography by – Salvatore Totino
Edited by – Bob Ducsay
Production/Distribution Companies – Warner Animation Group, Proximity Media, The SpringHill Company & Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring – LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, Jeff Bergman, Eric Bauza, Zendaya, Sonequa Martin-Green, Khris Davis, Ceyair J. Wright, Harper Leigh Alexander, Stephen Kankole, Jalyn Hall, Wood Harris, Bob Bergen, Fred Tatasciore, Kimberly Brooks, Jim Cummings, Gabriel Iglesias, Candi Milo, Paul Julian, Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike, Ernie Johnson, Lil Rel Howery, Justin Roiland and Michael B. Jordan
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Germany: na; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: U; United States: PG