LeBron James seems obsessed with the legacy of Michael Jordan.
The problem for LeBron James is that he's NOT Michael Jordan, not even close (despite this dreck published by our website yesterday).
That's why choosing to remake a classic movie starring Michael Jordan always seemed like such a miscalculation by James and his crew of decision makers. There was NO way that Space Jam 2 was going to be anywhere near as good as the original - the times have changed, movies have become more sanitized and the idea that kids would have any interest in Looney Tunes characters in 2021 seems unlikely.
The end result of Space Jam 2 is an extremely over complicated, corporate synergy heavy, mis-mosh of BLEGH.
Let's dive in.
First off, LeBron James cannot act. He is by far the worst actor in this movie. While he showed some potential playing a version of himself in the 2015 movie Trainwreck, he was only in that movie for like. . . 6 minutes and was carried by the other actors on the screen. The novelty of seeing LeBron James in a movie, saying kind of kind of weird stuff was the reason why people enjoyed his supporting role in the film.
Unfortunately for Lebron, LeBron is the star of this movie, LeBron has to act in this movie and when he tries, he is stiff as a board. The best performance of the film is turned in by 16 year old Cedric Joe, who plays LeBron's son and who out-shines his dad in nearly ever scene. I was actually surprised by how this young man performed, he brought a level of emotion to the film, was charismatic and he has a bright future in movies if he decides to continue down this path.
LeBron, however, reads his lines of dialogue like one would read the ingredients from the back of a shampoo bottle - methodical and with shock when you learn that it includes cactus oil or something. I can't imagine what it was like to be on set and to have to reassure LeBron that he "killed that scene" after 32 takes, all while knowing that the editors were going to have to piece together something workable in post production.
For the record, Michael Jordan couldn't act either - but there was enough going on around him the plot was simple enough and Jordan's role was that of the straight-man, so that it all seemed to work, despite MJ's sometimes flat affectation.
This brings us to the biggest problem with the movie - the plot, which is an incredibly overcomplicated mess of tech-gobledee-gook and strange parental life lessons. The essential outline of the film is that LeBron's pre-teen son wants to design original concept video games (very plausible and relatable) , but LeBron James wants him to like basketball, like him. The crisis comes to a head when, during a meeting with Warner Bros. studio executives, LeBron tells his son that he cannot go to computer-game camp and has to go to basketball camp. LeBron then follows his son into the Warner Bros. computer server room where both are sucked into the internet or something and digitized by a malevolent computer algorithm named Al-G Rhythm (no seriously), played by Don Cheadle in a performance I think he'd like to forget. LeBron is then forced to play Al-G Rhythm in basketball to save the life of himself and his son, so he and Bugs Bunny travel to different worlds based on other Warner Bros properties to recruits the Looney Tunes. Meanwhile Al-G Rhythm's team is comprised of mechanized or monsterized versions of several NBA ANNND WNBA players (because of course) with superpowers and led by Dom. In case the stakes weren't high enough, Al-G Rhythm (dumbest name ever) livestreams the game and abducts countless viewers, including LeBron's family AND if the Tune Squad loses, the viewers will remain there for eternity and the Looney Tunes will be deleted permanently or something. The Tune Squad wins, the day is saved.
Got all that? Yeah, it's complete non-sense.
Compare that to the plot of Space Jam. The Looney Tunes are being enslaved by some alien dickhead, they need help, they try to find the best basketball player ever to help them, he's playing baseball at the time, he reluctantly agrees to train them, they have a few laughs along the way, they win their freedom and MJ learns to love basketball again.
Yeah, it's complete non-sense - but it's simple and you never have to stop and think about how ridiculous it all sounds.
The movie is just a lot less fun. There isn't the same level of charm as the original, which was just an onslaught of goofiness from start to finish. The current iteration seems too self-aware of itself and the time in which it exists, which includes cultural statements like calling the Looney Tunes "the rejects" as signal to how they're some how "othered" by society or something (they're just cartoons though). The endearing 2D animation and meta-in-world commentary? That's replaced with CGI Porky Pig rap battling for some reason:
In all seriousness, I am not sure who this movie was intended for, but it sure isn't kids. For example, there is a scene where Wile E. Coyote is chasing the Roadrunner in a Mad Max Fury Road spoof, an extremely violent, R-Rated movie, that came out six years ago! I'd be slightly surprised if most 20-somethings understood this reference, let alone a 5th grader.
Rick and Morty? The Night King from Game of Thrones? Pennywise? Dr. Evil?
Who is this movie for - fanboy losers who post movie-trailer reaction videos on YouTube?
All in all Space Jam 2 is a fairly unenjoyable experience and it shouldn't have been made. If Warner Brothers wanted to make a Looney Tunes to help introduce them to new audiences, they should've tried something like Disney did with The Muppets back in 2011. That was a fun movie about the MUPPPETS, whereas this is a movie about LeBron James that The Looney Tunes just happen to show up and get tangled in the film's dumb plot about algorithm and parenthood or something. With the story centering around LeBron, the film fails because LeBron and his performance aren't interesting enough to make me care about him or his family.
It's telling that in his pursuit to usurp Michael Jordan's legacy as the all-time-greatest (this film is literally titled Space Jam: A New Legacy) that LeBron chose to remake something MJ had already perfected, instead of making something new and original himself. Perhaps that's the millennial in him, perhaps he just got bad advice, perhaps he just shouldn't make movies. Regardless the case, LeBron tried and failed in this attempt to "Be Like Mike" - the original Space Jam reigns supreme.
I don't have a personalized rating system yet, but on a scale of 1-10:
Happy Tuesday and God Bless America.