Warner Bros. Studios brings back the zany cult classic Space Jam with basketball star LeBron James. The movie premiered in theaters July 16 and simultaneously on HBO Max. This sequel expands beyond the Looney Tunes universe to pull in iconic characters, scenes and visuals from various Warner Media productions. The production company fully utilizes this opportunity to flex their catalog and potentially increase its subscribers even when it disservices the plot.
LeBron James knows what it takes to be successful in basketball—hard work, determination and practice. He wants his sons to find similar success, so he makes them practice the sport daily. His son Dom, however, has other plans. He wants to create video games. When the father and son get sucked into a digital program by a rogue AI, LeBron must team up with the Looney Toons characters to play his son’s video game.
What works (and what doesn’t):
Space Jam succeeds with its central story about fatherhood and the role parents should play in uplifting their children’s dreams. Although parents may have hopes and goals for their children, their children see a future for themselves as well. Space Jam does a sufficient job in showing this back-and-forth struggle between the parent and child when those dreams don’t align. The plot, however, gets weighed down with the excessive corporate push to highlight the best that Warner Media has to offer in its new streaming service.
The corporate synergy is akin to Inception as viewers watch a movie on HBO Max with characters from Warner Media who are re-enacting scenes from another Warner Media production. Several viewers’ scratched their heads after seeing Granny from Looney Tunes dodging bullets like Neo from the Matrix. With all the nonsensical crossovers, the movie ended up feeling like an extended sales pitch that never quite ended.
James’ performance in the film is nowhere near Oscar-worthy, but the film isn’t in anyway lessened by it. Much like the original, the appeal of Space Jam 2 is likened to the star’s basketball fan base. This choice to center the plot around the star, however, gives the player’s haters easy access to critique the film.
This movie is clearly not meant for most people. It is a kid’s film—like 12 and younger.
If you’re not a child, a diehard LeBron James fan or someone who loved the campiness of the original, this film is probably not for you. Although the film makes references to other popular Warner Media movies and television shows, this doesn’t save the film from being more on the bland side. In many ways, this synergy cheapens the story.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is currently out in theaters and streaming on HBO Max until August 17. You can watch the full trailer below.