By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
“Space Jam: A New Legacy,”
the live/action animated comedy and sequel to the 1996 “Space Jam” movie is a zany, nostalgic trip for devotees of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon characters. There’s everyone from Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, to Sylvester and Tweety Bird, Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd among other recognizable faces.
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (“Girls Trip”),
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is a dazzling and at times dizzying showcase for everything Warner Bros. and especially NBA superstar LeBron James
(“Trainwreck”) who co-produced the movie with Ryan Coogler
The original “Space Jam” wasn’t high-brow fare, and neither is “A New Legacy.” It’s supposed to be goofy and silly. It’s also pretty comical with its frenetic sight gags and jokes that stick the landing more often than not.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” centers around James, who is king of the basketball court, but at home with his wife Kamiyah (Sonequa Martin-Green (TV’s “Invincible” and “Star Trek: Discovery”) and his three kids, well, he’s just regular old dad.
His youngest son, Dom (Cedric Joe, TV’s “Modern Family”) has potential to be a standout basketball player, but Dom doesn’t want to put in the work. He really doesn’t want to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Dom is skilled at designing video games and he’s created one that could shake up the industry. That’s why he’s looking forward to going to a coding camp to learn more and show off his work.
However, James wants Dom to focus on basketball and initially he even crushes Dom’s dreams when he insists the kid attend a basketball camp and skip the coding trip.
When Dom shows his father what he’s developed, he’s clearly impressed, but right when the game gets going, something causes it to go haywire.
Somehow, they get sucked into this Server Verse--an aminated universe-- run by the villainous Al G Rhythm (a hilarious and scene-stealing Don Cheadle (TV’s “Black Monday”) who wants people to acknowledge his genius for the Warner Bros. brand.
James doesn’t want what Al G Rhythm is selling and that ticks the guy off so much that he kidnaps Dom and persuasively winds up pitting the confused kid against his father.
The only way James can get out of this crazy, kaleidoscopic world is to play a championship basketball game--one that his son designed--against Al G Rhythm’s digitized, elite, and powerful Goon Squad that features Laker’s star Anthony Davis and the WNBA’s Diana Taurasi and Nneka Ogwumike. James is forced to play with Bugs Bunny and a rag tag talentless crew.
The big game is staged by Al G Rhythm and called by TNT’s Ernie Johnson and Lil Rel Howery (“Judas and The Black Messiah”). It attracts quite an All-Star crowd. King Kong is among the biggest standouts. There’s also Pennywise, Iron Giant, Mr. Freeze, Joker, Wonder Woman, Batman, and a ton of others Warner Bros. legends. Spotting all of them is what makes “Space Jam: A New Legacy” so fun. That and watching King James hold court.
It’s not likely LeBron James will quit his day job any time soon, but with the goofball charm and commanding screen presence, he brings to “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” it’s possible a movie career could be in the cards.
Watch This Trailer For "SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.