Space Jam: A New Legacy
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Released 25 years after the original Space Jam, Space Jam: A New Legacy follows a fictionalized version of NBA star LeBron James and his youngest son, Dom (Cedric Joe). When a nasty A.I. named Al-G-Rhythm (get it?) sucks them into a virtual world filled with Warner Bros. characters, they must compete in a basketball game against a “Goon Squad” of virtual NBA avatars with superpowers. Fortunately, they get a little help from the Looney Tunes gang, who (yet again) join forces as a rag-tag basketball team.
NBA star LeBron James, Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Cedric Joe, Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead, Star Trek: Discovery), Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), Jeff Bergman (as the voice of Bugs Bunny), Zendaya (voicing Lola Bunny), and Eric Bauza.
Like many films aimed at kids, Space Jam: A New Legacy is weird. Granted, the original film was also weird, and A New Legacy simply builds on that.
Some of those who grew up watching Space Jam and hold a deep nostalgia for it now have their own wee ones to share it with (and if you’ve never seen it or just want a refresher you can currently find it streaming on HBO Max). Unlike many other remakes or sequels, A New Legacy works well because it doesn’t try to reinvent what made the first film so special. It’s just as quirky and fun as its predecessor, it just has a more modern approach.
A New Legacy has a similar plot to Space Jam, with some notable updates. Instead of aliens attempting to capture the Looney Tunes and Bugs Bunny seeking the help of NBA star Michael Jordan to win a basketball game, NBA star LeBron James seeks the help of Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes to win a basketball game. Just as in the original, the basketball game comes with high stakes: if the Toon Squad loses against the Goon Squad, James will lose his son and the Looney Tunes will be gone forever. This time, however, the main villain is an A.I. (an interesting commentary on just how much screens control us) and the basketball game is now a fancy-schmancy video game.
The Looney Tunes continue to be their happy, goofy, cartoony selves, setting off ACME cannons, painting fake tunnels, and generally wrecking havoc. Their timeless antics will still make children laugh and parents smile. Some of the characters are given far more agency in A New Legacy. One standout is Lola Bunny who, besides James, is the best player on the court and a solid team player. Even Porky Pig gets a moment to shine in a strange rap battle that should make kids laugh (but may confuse adults).
A New Legacy’s weirdness lies in just how many WB properties are referenced throughout the film. While some properties like Batman and Harry Potter are very recognizable to kids (we learn that James is a Hufflepuff), others seem targeted towards adults or just randomly thrown in, like Game of Thrones and Casablanca (which, to be fair, has been parodied in Warner Bros. cartoons since its original release in the 1940s). It’s fun to see some of the Looney Tunes inserted into these classic movies, but the more modern references land a little better, like Lola Bunny working through the obstacle course in Wonder Woman.
Adults or young adults who do not have children may or may not enjoy A New Legacy, depending on how much nostalgia they hold for the original. They may not gravitate towards this update that heavily features the internet and incorporates video games. For those who thought the original was a fun movie, A New Legacy continues in that tradition. There are as many fun jokes and heartwarming moments as the original.
With its PG rating Space Jam: A New Legacy is wholesome fare for families with children of all ages and adults with fond memories of the original.
Your whole family, especially fans of Looney Tunes and basketball. There are no swears, no violence (unless you count cartoon violence), and the film has a heartwarming message about the importance of accepting others for who they are.
Look out for cameos from some big-name stars, including a very familiar face from the original film.