With constant consolidation and acquisitions, creative ideas can be lost in limbo, other times, they just lack the commercial viability to be available for eternity. The era of streaming has rectified this somewhat, with catalogues of content available at a click of a button. Yet the ever-growing content libraries need ever-growing content, with rivals from freshly acquired intellectual property. In 2021, Warner Brothers, eager to show off their expansive collection, while having fun with Looney Tunes, and LeBron James in an old-fashioned, yet updated game of Basketball in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Young LeBron has a talent for greatness, but only if he can disregard distractions, like the Game Boy. Similar pressures befall his son, who is more interested in technology than the game, much to his dad’s chagrin. Meanwhile, The Warner Brothers algorithm (read Al-G Rhythm) has some big plans for LeBron, after rejecting his collaboration on Warner 3000, Al-G Rhythm trapping his son in the “Servervesre” (read Warner Brothers archives). The only way to get his son back is through a computerised Basketball game, and he’s going to have to rely on the skills of some animated characters. Some who have had previous skills in playing the game of basketball before.
With reboots/re-sequels or whatever the popular term is for films like Space Jam 2, you typically get some repetition. Here, you Seinfeld vision but for LeBron, all joking aside, there is a lot more to Space Jam 2 than just a revamped Basketball match. Mainly seeing LeBron and Bugs Bunny and the whole catalogue of Warner Bros interacting. Some criticism has been made as to the maturity of the references in Space Jam 2, and while that’s true, cartoons have been making references to more mature media for, at least, as long as I have been around. So seeing Austin Powers, and the cast of Fury Road feels similar to seeing various Saturday-morning cartoons re-enact the speech scene from Patton, parodying the plot of Psycho nor the chess scene from the Seventh Seal. Regardless of their appropriateness, there is a lot of joy in seeing Bugs and the gang interact with Justice League, for example. From Mortal Kombat to Rick and Morty (Lego Minifigures might be a logistical nightmare, so their absence can be explained). Practically all of Warner Brothers properties manage to get in on the fun.
This is the first major motion picture since Back in Action to feature the animated ensemble, and they do well, showing no signs of rust as a result of their on-screen absence. Taking over from Michael Jordan, we have King James himself. He has some good lines, for a basketballer first and an actor subsequently. There is a certain charm in seeing LeBron’s wide-eyed awe at some extended properties on display, and I’m not sure how much of that is purely acting. Doubly so when you see him and his heavily fictionalised family do have some interesting family drama. With Michael Burnham, Sonequa Martin-Green and Cedric Joe filling in for his wife, Kamiyah (not his real wife Savannah) and son Dom (not his real son Bryce) respectively. Don Cheadle also dons the role of Al-G Rhythm who has experience in portraying wise-cracking Artificial Intelligence, often he steals the show.
My lack of familiarity with Basketball didn’t stop my enjoyment of Space Jam, nor does it of its sequel. It is an entertaining adventure to let LeBron and Bugs Bunny interact with the wider world of Warner Brothers. A celebratory look at the company’s legacy, from current hot properties to forgotten classics, and seeing the Looney Tunes gang perform their antics in these iconic worlds is certainly worth the price of admission. Facing an increasing need for captivating content, Looney Tunes can still deliver a slam-dunk despite their age and the odds.
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