REVIEW: ‘Space Jam’s’ New Legacy is mostly lousy

Do you love Warner Bros.? And I mean really love Warner Bros.? Then do I have the movie for you.

Warner Bros. has brought back its “Space Jam” concept, this time swapping His Airness with King James. In this film, Lebron James is having trouble connecting with his son Dom (Cedric Joe), who’s more interested in video game design than basketball, something that the NBA star isn’t excited about.

The future hall of famer gets a crash course in video games, though, when he visits the WB studio, which has a proposal for him to star in their movies through a program created by an artificial intelligence named Al G. Rythm (Don Cheadle). When James turns the idea down, Al G. Rythm is upset and decides to bring both Dom and James into the digital realm. where he challenges the NBA player to a game of basketball, against video game characters his son invented.

As the name implies, this is a sequel to the 1996 film, meaning the majority of team James plays with are Looney Tunes, better known as the Tune Squad. In order to assemble a full Tune roster, a big chunk of the movie follows James recruiting Squad members with Bugs Bunny (voiced by Jeff Bergham).

This is one of the film’s problems. In some sports movies, it makes sense to have a recruiting scene because an audience is being introduced to new characters. However, this movie has the most well-known current NBA player and a group of famous cartoon characters.

“A New Legacy” stretches its runtime way longer than the movie has any right to be with this recruiting mission in the middle of the movie. It doesn’t add much to the film, and it only serves as a commercial for Warner Bros.

During their recruiting, James and Bugs visit different “worlds” in the WB server, including “Matrix” world, “Justice League” world and “Harry Potter” world. It’s just a lot of filler before getting to the game.

SPACE JAM 2
Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

The original movie was under 90 minutes, clocking in at 88. This new film is nearly two hours at 115 minutes, when it really didn’t need to be. The only filler the first movie really had was some brief scenes with the players who lost their talent.

This is a picture that really could’ve been trimmed. That extends to the game, too, which is the final third of the movie. A moment like Porky Pig randomly rapping seemed really unnecessary.

As for the cast, Cheadle is an award caliber actor and it shows since he’s the best performer in the movie. He plays a pretty typical family movie villain, but does it well enough. James, meanwhile, doesn’t exactly have the same screen presence.

This is the second time James has played himself on screen, the first was his appearance in 2015’s “Trainwreck.” Unfortunately, the former performance was better. It’s not the worst acting, but it’s clear James isn’t a performer.

The Lebron character is actually the better of the two main protagonists, though. The way this movie handles Bugs is rather disappointing.

In most media, including the 1996 film, Bugs is a smart ass with a lot of self awareness. He has an attitude to him, an attitude that’s made him a memorable character over decades. Bugs is noticeably lacking that attitude in this film. He comes across as somewhat meek here, to the point where he kind of gets overshadowed.

With all of that said, “A New Legacy” has some family entertainment value. The basketball game itself has a lot of trick plays involving video game mechanics, which creates some excitement.

The antics by the Tunes and some of the creativity with this movie’s bad guy team makes for a fun atmosphere. The movie also delivers some humorous moments, too, such as a great cameo at halftime in the game.

Overall, this “Space Jam” sequel is overlong, the acting is spotty and this version of Bugs is far less memorable. However, “New Legacy” isn’t a total loss.

Fans of basketball who have nostalgia for the first film should get something out of this, and it works for kids who want to see a fun, over-the-top version of sports. 2.25 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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