Superstar LeBron James and his young son, Dom, get trapped in digital space by a rogue AI. To get home safely, LeBron teams up with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang for a high-stakes basketball game against the AI’s digitized champions of the court — a powered-up roster called the Goon Squad.
“If we’re going out, we’re going out Looney!”
To someone my age the 1996 Space Jam is an iconic movie. To see a movie at the time that blended animation and live action, which only Who Framed Roger Rabbit had done before, but also to star the biggest superstar on the planet at the time was a big deal. Michael Jordan brought a charisma to that movie that made every kid like me obsessed with him and this incredibly bizarre movie about Aliens challenging the Looney Tunes to a basketball game. However, it has stood the test of time and as with all things now, a sequel, or reboot, or reimagining whatever you may call it, had to happen. And who else could take the reigns besides the one and only Lebron James.
Since this is an animated movie for 75% of the time we are going to do the Apple Juice Animation ratings for this one.
Animation – B+
I actually liked the Animation because they gave us the old hand drawn style for the Looney Tunes most of the time. Also all the traveling through the Serververse looked good and felt like it was happening to Lebron. When the animation shifted and the Tunes kind of became human, I also thought it looked good, especially Porky Pig. For me though, I will always prefer the hand drawn style, there is just something perfect about it to me.
Voice Cast – D+
Let’s just get this out of the way, Lebron was not good at all in this movie. He was flat, and sometimes looked like he did not even want to be in the scene. Don Cheadle also was going for it, but did not make at all for the type of villain that Danny Devito’s Swackhammer did. The Looney Tune voices were all fine except I am sad to say Lola Bunny. Zendaya is the best but the portrayal in the original is just so much more memorable. Take out the sexualization stuff, and just add some spice to it. Because this Lola really was unmemorable except for of course the recreation of the famous Lebron, Wade Alley-Oop.
Music – C+
I thought the music was good, again though sticking with the theme here, was pretty unmemorable. As sad as it is to say I Believe I Can Fly was massive because of Space Jam, and the original Space Jam song is a certified banger. There was nothing like that here, just a bunch of songs by current rappers, which are good, but wont have me running to grab the soundtrack.
Story – D
Before you yell at me BOOO ITS A KIDS MOVIE, hear me out.
This new movie directed by Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip, Night School) really updates everything, and makes the main premise about a basketball video game rather than basketball. It also has Lebron’s character deal with the classic trope of a parent dealing with a kid who wants to do something other than what the parent would want. This causes the friction and separates them into the Warner Bros. Serververse. Yes you heard that right this movies is not subtle at all about the back that Warner Bros. produced it and that it is releasing on HBO Max. What I mean by that is it should be called Warner Bros. the official guide, because basically every scene in this 2 hour (absolutely absurd length) movie has a reference to the studio or one of its many properties. The main way this is done is in the rounding up of the Looney Tunes from different movies. So Lebron and Bugs have to hop through movies like Mad Max: Fury Road, Casablanca, or DC World (I know all places a child loves to hang out) just to find all their Looney companions. It is a makeshift Ready Player One, which is frustrating to me because RPO is one of my favorite movies of the last decade. So that is where my main issue lies, is the idea is sound but making all the references indecipherable for children makes this hard for kids to even understand when they watch. Literally when you get to the game everyone in the crowd is some bad cosplayer of a Warner Brothers character, it is wild.
Sure kids will enjoy the game at the end, but will they even make it there? The endless movie jumping and relentlessly bad acting from Lebron might just turn off some kids to be honest. The original movie being 87 minutes makes it such an easily sell. But for this to be a full 2 hours will be much harder to get a kid to sit for and get a millennial with nostalgia to rewatch.
*A couple other tidbits
- The guys from A Clockwork Orange in the crowd at the game, you kidding me?
- Lil Rel of course had to find his way into this movie.
- The opening credits mimicking the original movie was actually a nice touch.
- The fact that Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Nneka Ogwumike, and Diana Taurasi are in the movie and are hardly used is just sad.
To me this movie was a failure on a lot of levels. But most of all using a beloved property like Space Jam to market a streaming service and a studio’s catalog feels corporate as hell and wrong. To me this is what is bad about the sequel culture of today, and I hope someone sees this and thinks maybe we have gone too far in one direction and it is time to come back to the middle.
*You can find my 2021 Movie Rankings here.
*You can find all of my Movie Ratings here.
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