A New Legacy ‘is a very long commercial for Warner Bros .: Review

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In the original version Space jam, Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes play basketball against a gang of aliens to avoid the unthinkable fate of becoming attractions in an intergalactic theme park, forced to play toothless versions of themselves for the pleasure of paying customers. Jordan and the Tunes win this round luckily, and the 1996 film ends with them resuming their ordinary lives happily ever after.

But Space Jam: a new legacy Looks like the Monsters have the last laugh. Here is not just the Looney Tunes, but the entire vast universe of Warner Bros. IP trotted with big vacant smiles at the behest of a calculating parent company. It’s not completely devoid of fun – I laughed a few times, especially when Don Cheadle was on screen. Overall, however, the new Space jam looks less like entertainment than a sales pitch.

The unique basketball talent at the center of the story this time around is LeBron James (playing himself). Along with his teenage son Dom (Cedric Joe), he’s sucked into the “Warner Bros. Serververse” – essentially, the Warner Bros. OASIS. Loan Player One – by a nasty algorithm named Al-G Rhythm (Cheadle), which forces father and son to compete in a basketball video game created by Dom.

LeBron brings in the Tune Squad for his team, while Dom joins the Goon Squad (a horribly animated cast of human-animal hybrids based on real NBA and WBNA players like Klay Thompson and Diana Taurasi) . They will perform in front of a mixed audience of Warner Bros. characters. and random humans sucked into the Serververse against their will. The stakes are high: If LeBron loses, the Looney Tunes are gone for good and everyone is trapped in the Serververse forever. If he wins, everything returns to normal.

Are we still having fun?
Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Did this plot recap make sense to you? It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, and I watched this movie. In any case, it hardly matters. The premise is just a vehicle to get us to where we’re really going, which is a journey through the Warner Bros. catalog. and in a grand finale where LeBron and the Tunes play cartoon basketball in front of iron giant, Fred Flintstone, and Pennywise from He. Oh sure, that vaguely hints at a deeper lesson about the importance of being yourself and letting others be themselves. More importantly, does the Penguin sit alongside The Mask in the front row? Why, yes, that’s it !!

Space Jam: A New Legacy makes it seem like the Monstars have the last laugh.

Every now and then crossovers are cute. A quick reveal of what the Tasmanian Devil has been up to since we last saw him, for example, seems satisfying. In most cases, however, the joke begins and ends with the simple fact that a bunch of things from different properties have been put together. If you’ve ever wondered what Casablanca be as if Yosemite Sam is the pianist, Space Jam: a new legacy has an answer, and it’s “just like Casablanca already is, only now Yosemite Sam is the pianist. “

Space Jam: a new legacy isn’t the first film to spend time showing what else its studio has, and it’s not as if its predecessor is a shining example of pure anti-capitalist art. But this decision has never been so coldly commercial as in Space Jam: a new legacy, which barely tries to make referrals anything more. Loan Player One may not have been much more subtle in his presentation of Warner Bros. IP, but at least that Shiny the sequence was pretty neat.

Maybe that cynicism would be less raspy if the film had more advantages otherwise, but everything around obsessive branding is right there. James, who turned out to be a surprisingly skilled comedic actor in Judd Apatow’s Rail accident, is basically likable but not exactly interesting in the lead role of a father who can’t connect with his son, while other talented performers like Sonequa Martin-Green (playing his wife) are literally sidelined. . Likewise, the lessons he learns at the end are largely flawless but broad, bland, and shallow, even by the standards of a PG family movie.

I laughed then.

I laughed then.
Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The entertainment is lively, loud, and in some places, unbelievably inexpensive. In particular, the Goon Squad, which adds fantastic features like spider wings and legs to cartoon characters resembling human gamers, looks like it was taken from a ten-year-old bargain DVD. On the other hand, Bugs and Friends are being upgraded by Al-G from 2D animation to sleek 3D animation for no apparent reason. They don’t look any better and their makeovers don’t affect the plot, but now they’re more like what kids today expect from mainstream American animation. That a lot of people spend a lot of time, money and skills in manufacturing Space Jam: a new legacy is obvious; the screenplay is assigned to six different people and director Malcolm D. Lee has a strong resume that includes comedy gems like Girls trip and The best man. If only all of these resources had been put to better use.

In its best moments, of which there are few, Space Jam: a new legacy embraces the insane madness of its characters. There’s a basketball workout where all the Tunes show off their most exaggerated stuff, and these are perhaps the most delicious five minutes of the 115-minute run. Cheadle’s performance translates less “having fun” than “no fuck given”, but it’s still funny when he yells at his cute robot sidekick, Pete. And the Lil Rel Howery cameo is, at the very least, a welcome reminder that every movie is made better by putting Lil Rel Howery in it. But then the movie stops so that Porky Pig aka the Notorious PIG can deliver the most impressive rap performance on HBO Max since “L to the OG,” and, wait, what are we doing here again?

Is it supposed to be fun? Space Jam: a new legacy would like you to believe it. Indeed, the film speaks explicitly about the importance of joy. LeBron begins the film by viewing basketball solely as a career and a responsibility, and characters like Dom and Bugs Bunny try, even though he’s playing for his freedom, to remind him that the game is meant to be fun as well. It’s a lesson Space Jam: a new legacy he himself would do well to take that into account. A movie about beloved cartoons playing a fantasy version of basketball with a beloved star athlete should be amusing. Space Jam: a new legacy, for all its bright colors and wacky plot points, is all about business.

Space Jam: a new legacy is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max on Friday.


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