…and they are not good.
This past weekend, the movie Space Jam: A New Legacy was released to both theaters and HBOMax. Critics wasted no time at all savaging the movie. The only question was, why? Why did the long-anticipated sequel to Michael Jordan’s animated/live-action sports action-comedy fail? It was projected to gross a significant amount of money at the box office, only to fall very short of expectations, as most reputable sources have concurred that the movie has been nothing short of a major disappointment. As of typing, the movie has a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 3.7/10 on IMDB, both of which are expected to decline as it heads into its second week (for comparison, the first Space Jam has a slightly better score of 44% and is still regarded as a classic). The question is, why?
There are in fact, several factors that have contributed to this. For one, many of the poor reviews have been quick to point out the movie’s lack of fun humor and earnest light-heartedness, blatant advertising of Warner Bros. property, disappointment with celebrity and NBA roles, and the long two-hour runtime compared to Space Jam’s 87 minutes. Aside from a few exceptions, these reviews back up why Space Jam: A New Legacy was a disappointment after all of the movie’s hype and a quarter-century wait.
Another source of controversy surrounding the movie was the fact that the director of the movie made the decision to remove the famous Looney Tune Pepe LePew because he promoted terrible things (look it up yourself, because I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say in this review what those terrible things are), even though he never went that far. Meanwhile, the Droogs from A Clockwork Orange appear in this movie, even though they actually committed the terrible thing that I mentioned, and yet they get a free pass? That just screams hypocrisy. And this is not the only time the film can’t decide what its target audience should be; there are several instances of the word “hell” being used while the Looney Tunes are right there! Not only that, but the Porky Pig rap battle and Granny’s “Haters gonna hate” just feel so cringe.
And that’s not the only thing that fans were unhappy about. Some were up in arms over Lola Bunny’s new design, where her chest size was dramatically reduced from the previous iteration. Not helping matters at all was the fact that the director apparently mocked the fans who were unhappy with this decision, which resulted in even more people not wanting to watch the film. (Classic move for getting people to support your work, am I right?)
But perhaps, most egregiously, Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes pals are more or less sidelined in what was supposed to be their movie. Instead, the focus is basically on LeBron and his son Dom, and basically the extended Warner Bros. universe. I’m not joking, there are a LOT of references to other Warner Brothers properties in the movie that are crammed Ready Player One-style, and the novelty of seeing them all wears off pretty quickly. As a result, it just feels like a sub-2-hour commercial for the entire Warner franchise disguised as a movie. And even within the scope of its own fictional universe, it’s a confusing mess. Is it a remake? A sequel? A spiritual successor of some kind? It’s not clear where it fits on the Space Jam timeline. The writing is poor, the story is weak, and the movie is clearly meant to be a cash grab.
So should you see this movie? It’s ultimately up to you. I, however, might not plan on seeing it in a serious capacity. The film was so bad to many that even the Chinese audience that Lebron appears to be pandering to didn’t want it. (Talk about karmic.) No joke, it speaks volumes that even the country that most Hollywood films attempt to cater doesn’t care for it. Some people who may end up seeing it might enjoy playing Where’s Waldo, trying to identify every Warner IP that appears on screen. But overall, the film is forgettable and mostly failed to deliver on the character and plot required to make it a memorable experience.