Dog’s Movie House: “Space Jam: A New Legacy” Overstuffed Yet Fitfully Entertaining Animated Film!
The plot has Lebron James and his middle son Dom (a winning Cedric Joe) at odds over Dom’s dreams. His dad wants him to be a basketball player but Dom wants to pursue his passion of designing video games. This conflict coincides with a trip to Warner Bros. Studios where the aforementioned Al G. Rhythm transports Lebron and Dom to the digital “Warnersphere” where to get his son back, Lebron will have to team with Bugs and the other Looney Tunes to win a basketball game against Rhythm and his “Goon Squad.” The catch is that the game is actually a pumped up version of Dom’s own creation and Dom is actually playing with the Goon Squad. Will Dom see Rhythm for the monster he is and rejoin his dad in time to win the big game? Does anybody care?
Look, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is essentially a retelling of the origninal movie with shiny new parts and a little more backstory. Lebron is no great thespian, but he’s far better than Michael Jordan in the acting department. He has a good repore with Joe as Dom and if the script were better you can really see the possibility of an emotional connection between the two. The animation, both 2D and 3D, is gorgeous if a little headache-inducing, and the voices for the critters are fine (although nothing compares to Mel Blanc).
The main problem is that the writers and director Malcolm D Lee (probably at the behest of the studio) want to jam as many of their properties into the film as possible. Everyone from the Iron Giant to King Kong to Pennywise to the War Boys from “Mad Max: Fury Road” make an appearance. Even The Droogs from “A Clockwork Orange” are hanging out courtside of the big game. None of these guys are around long enough to be more than part of a cinematic “Where’s Waldo” collage. I have a hard time believing it took six writers to come up with this dreck.
One of the film’s saving graces is Don Cheadle as Al G. Rhythm. In a role he could have easily phoned in and cashed a paycheck, Cheadle gives Rhythm a real energy and purpose as the slighted computer algorithm. His ambitions come from a place of lonliness and anger and in a better film, would have served as an interesting examination on what it means to be alive, whether as a flesh or pixelated being. As it stands, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” will probably be a hit with the kiddies despite all of the bad in-jokes and cameos flying waaay over their heads, but you’d be much better off just watching the classic Looney Tunes cartoons this weekend instead. 2 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.