Well now Warner Bros. have entered a new chapter into that debate. First Michael Jordan was the star of the original Space Jam movie back in 1996 and now they have made LeBron James the star of its sequel – Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Storywise the brand-new film is pretty basic. James plays himself although in this world he is at logger-heads with his youngest son Dom (Cedric Joe – Loving Him). Dom is a gifted young video game maker who wants to attend an elite Gamers Camp while LeBron wants his son to follow in his footsteps and to attend a Basketball Camp.
Those two worlds then collide when Warner Bros. highly successful algorithm, literally a digital figure named Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle – Crash), makes the decision that the company needs to hire LeBron and digitally insert him into some classic shows and movies. LeBron laughs and rejects the idea and in anger Al G. Rhythm lures both him and his son into the Warner Bros. world where he challenges him to a basketball game to show who has the ‘skills’.
Al G. Rhythm then sets out to create a super-team using the nearly unbeatable players that Dom has created for his game while LeBron is reduced to putting together a team with the forgotten Looney Tunes stars – including the fan favourites Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Road Runner.
The premise behind the film is basic but somehow director Malcolm D. Lee (Girl’s Trip) manages to make it all work. It is obvious that the film is supposed to be a vehicle to not only bring the Looney Tunes back into popularity with a younger generation but to also showcase the entire WB World. There are a plethora of characters appearing from other WB franchises throughout this film so no you aren’t seeing things if you suddenly see King Kong or Voldermort appear… and at times the film itself plays up to that with heavy references to films such as The Matrix.
While some may view that as a negative it does actually become a positive for the film because it ends up meaning that this is a film that can be enjoyed by the whole family. In fact you could argue that while this is clearly a film aimed at kids it is a film that will largely be loved by adults because of the nostalgia factor. If your kids are not fans of basketball or haven’t raided your own Looney Tunes VHS collection then chances are they are going to wonder what on Earth is happening throughout the film.
Of course what WB is actually hoping for is that your kids will fall in love with the good old Looney Tunes characters off the back of this film and that is something that could certainly happen. The animation team behind the film do change-up things during the film and try to make the Looney Tunes characters look more modern and to a certain extent it does work.
The other big question that people are going to wonder going into this film is does LeBron James have the acting ability to pull off a movie like this. The simple answer to that is yes, the long answer is don’t expect to see him in any Oscar-winning roles anytime soon. James does what it takes to make this film work and he is more than passable even in scenes where he has to reach for his emotions. The man who steals the show though is Don Cheadle who seems to be channelling Jack Nicholson’s performance in The Witches of Eastwick throughout the film.
To sum up Space Jam: A New Legacy is not a waste of time but be prepared as an adult to get more out of this film than your kids will. It’s loud, it’s funny and at times is a walk down memory lane.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is screening in Phuket now.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus