Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer: Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler
Staring: LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, Sonequa Martin-Green
Streaming: HBO Max
Release Date: July 16, 2021

“A rogue artificial intelligence kidnaps the son of famed basketball player LeBron James, who then has to work with Bugs Bunny to win a basketball game.

Let’s get this out on the table first. No one expected Space Jam: A New Legacy to be a good movie. Expectations for it for MOVIE fans were middling. Maybe for LEBRON JAMES fans, they were higher.

With that said, Space Jam: A New Legacy is not a good movie. It is a darn good commercial for Warner Brothers and HBO Max, but that is not what I do, and we do here. As a movie, Space Jam: A New Legacy is clunky, unfunny and time stamped. Nearly every joke is weighed down by intellectual property that will eventually fade, and all of that IP is intertwined with the WB and HBO Max. The poor jokes are part of a script that seems to have been written on the fly and had the final editing down by someone who was watching Tik-Toks while falling asleep.

There are three credited writers on Space Jam: A New Legacy but all of HBO’s executive board and marketing team were in on whatever meetings or zoom calls that took place. Every single major franchise that Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO have is referenced; Justice League, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Matrix and Game of Thrones to name a few. There is also more than a few references to Casablanca (1942) which is proof that this movie was made as a commercial. The movie is made for kids, NONE OF WHOM HAVE EVER HEARD OF CASABLANCA! It is an attempt to capture the parents who are watching the movie…who I would be most of which have not seen the movie either! The TCM aspect of HBO MAX is only touched on by the movie nerds and grandparents.

One of the major lessons that is trying to be taught in Space Jam: A New Legacy is to have fun and lose yourself in something that you love. It is ironic that the story is preaching fun while it saps out the very thing with such blatant business propaganda.

No one in Space Jam: A New Legacy is knocking out of the park in the acting department. Lebron is not a trained actor, but the poor script doesn’t do him any favors. No joke, James was funny in Trainwreck (2015). He does not have the same crisp script here to benefit from. It is really funny but you can tell which characters in the movie are played by actors with true talent; Sonequa Martin-Green as Bron’s wife has some cringy lines but she is still able to deliver them in a more convincing way. Also, Don Cheadle, who plays the villainous AI G. Rhythm, has to deal with some fantastic creativity as the evil algorithm in the “serververse.” That is what the performers in the movie are working with.

Speaking strictly as myself, Jonathan Stanko, I am trying to give this movie the benefit of the doubt because it is made for kids. Even with that caveat, Space Jam: A New Legacy lacks in so many of the other areas. The movie plays out like a series of unfunny skits that were filmed in spaced out segments. The fluidity is only strong when everything is animated, which make sense if you think about it because there are the most variables that can be controlled.

Kids love Space Jam: A New Legacy. Adults will be tormented by it. Michael Bay should be proud of what the makers of Space Jam: A New Legacy.

(Imagine watching this movie with the sunglasses from They Live (1988)? It would be overload for everyone’s senses.)

Space Jam: A New Legacy is on HBO Max till August 15.

Stanko Rating: C- (2.5/5 Stars)

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