What They Say:
NBA champ LeBron James and his son Dom are trapped in digital space by a rogue A.I. To get them home, LeBron must lead Bugs Bunny and the whole gang of undisciplined Looney Tunes to victory over the A.I.’s team of digitized NBA and WNBA stars. It’s Tunes versus Goons in a high-stakes challenge that shines a light on the power of being yourself.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A few years ago I sat down to write what would ultimately be one of my most depressing reviews ever: A three star review for “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” a sequel to the surprisingly charming “Wreck-it-Ralph” from just a few years earlier. At three stars the review was, technically speaking, a ‘recommendation’ (and I did lament that the film showed that “The Emoji Movie” didn’t have to be as terrible as it was). However, I was bothered by some of the core philosophies behind it. Disney tended to not make sequels for their animated films, yet this was a sequel. It lived in the modern world and felt destined to be dated within a few years (a prediction that has come true I’m sorry to say), defeating the whole idea that Disney made “timeless” films.
The worst aspect though was how Disney threw everything they owned into the film – from Star Wars to Marvel, Mickey Mouse to Buzz Lightyear – as if to say “look at us everyone! Look at how much stuff we own! Aren’t we great?!” Yes, there was some amusement to be found in the Disney princesses hanging out at a slumber party. Yes, it was funny to funny to see Pixar characters referred to as coming from “the other studio.” Yes, we recognize that this stuff exists. We get that! What I couldn’t understand was why was all this here?! Though there was enough to like about the movie, I tersely concluded that watching “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was akin to watching Disney ‘masturbate’ (if you’ll pardon the crude term). When the film was financially successful I privately wondered what that said about the future of Disney and their movies.
Turns out I should have been concerned about how Hollywood itself would respond, because now we have “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” a film that seems to have taken all their notes from “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and made a film that is much, MUCH worse than I could have anticipated! “Space Jam: A New Legacy” isn’t a movie: It is a self-pleasuring vanity project from a studio that is desperately looking for love and attention and only finding it from themselves because they can’t find anyone to love them back. This isn’t just Warner Bros. masturbating; this is Warner Bros. masturbating and bragging on Facebook that they are doing this to anyone who will listen. It was, quite frankly…embarrassing to be sitting in the theater and watching this desperate plea for affection play out before my eyes. There was no soul to be found in “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” no heart to tickle my Grinch feelings, and no fun to be had. If someone asked you to find five things to prove that corporations have no soul, just show them “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and they’ll find at least fifty.
Granted, it’s not like the original “Space Jam” was the product of artistic integrity; it was the end result of a series of popular commercials in which Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny teamed up to sell Nike shoes and Sprint phone coverage. That it was as entertaining as it was seemed more like a happy accident than anything else (as was getting Bill Murray to cameo). And really, the idea that a sequel could be made every twenty years or so where the Looney Tunes play basketball with whatever greatest player of the generation is at the time is isn’t exactly the WORST idea in the world (it’s not particularly inspiring either, but we at least have evidence it worked once in its own goofy way)! The problem is that Warner Bros. took that idea and decided to use it as a platform to sell their crap (and – maybe even – their HBO Max service). When LeBron James (played by the real-life basketball player) enters the Warner 3000 computer and passes through the lands of “Game of Thrones,” DC Comics, and “The Matrix,” he does so without purpose or meaning.
He enters these lands for no other reason than because he can. Why and how does he enter different ‘lands’ of the Warner Bros. IP’s you may ask? Oh, well, the “story” of this thing revolves around an algorithm (played by Don Chedal) who wants to use LeBron to promote the idea that computer software can take any famous person and put them into any movie scenario and pop out a film. This is the only time I really laughed because not only does “Space Jam: A New Legacy” have no soul, it apparently has no sense of irony either. To add insult to injury, the basketball itself (you know, the main reason Warner Bros. has to hire someone like LeBron James in the first place) is played in such a way that there is no way for the audience to make heads or tails of how the game is supposed to be played or how the scoring system works.
It got to the point where I was more interested in seeing who was in the audience as opposed to how the game itself was being played. Spectators included famous Warner Bros. characters like the Animaniacs, the Jetsons, two versions of the Joker, King Kong, Pennywise, and the rapists from “A Clockwork Orange” (concerned parents need not be concerned though; Warner Bros. took the moral high road by not including Pepe le Pew). That’s about all of the story I can stomach to discuss. It doesn’t really matter anyway. The point behind “Space Jam: A New Legacy” isn’t to tell a story or even be entertaining. It’s a chance for Warner Bros. to brag about all the franchises they’ve made over the years and advertise them to us. Though you will rarely hear me say this, watching it on HBO Max almost makes more sense than seeing it in theaters, as it acts more like a commercial to watch something else on the platform than this “movie.”
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is a sad and depressing thing to see. Sad because the Looney Tunes, LeBron James, Malcolm D. Lee (the director), and EVERYONE involved in this train wreck deserve to spend their time on good movies rather than bad commercials for HBO Max! It’s depressing to see Warner Bros. – a studio that truly does have a movie legacy to be proud of – utterly shit all over that legacy in every possible way. What’s also crushing me is seeing my one-off crude joke for my “Ralph Breaks the Internet” review become a philosophy that studios embrace. Disney and Warner Bros. used to be studios that aged like a fine wine that has now turned into bitter old men who do nothing but self-pleasure themselves because they feel they aren’t getting the love they think they deserve. Yet love comes when great art is produced. It comes when mere entertainment is made. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” may certainly be a new legacy for all I know, but it seems like a dismal one that’s bound to lead more to heartbreak than fondness.
Streamed By: HBO Max