Will enough grown-ups go to see “Space Jam: A New Legacy” or at least bring their kids or grandkids to see this new film to make up for the bloated $150 million budget?
I want to see it because Daffy Duck is in the movie and I am a fan of his work. LeBron James has the leading role, one filled by Michael Jordan in the similar but not directly related “Space Jam” of 1996. LeBron James has actually done other film work in a handful of movies, sometimes playing himself. He is joined by Oscar nominee Don Cheadle and young up and comer Zendaya, only one name for her so far. She has arrived via the Disney pipeline and has performed as a dancer, recording artist, and now an actress. Recently she has played MJ in a couple of “Spiderman” movies. She will play Chani in the long-awaited, long-delayed new addition of “Dune” now scheduled to be out later this year. Lots of basketball players have cameo roles.
The film is a mixture of live actors and animated characters, a style began by the 1988 film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” has five writers involved in the script. I blame that for how wretched the film is. How can movie people spend $150 million and end up with a colorful, nonsensical film that through most of its length is simply dull, boring, and hard to watch? Director Malcolm D. Lee has made clever, witty films for adults in the past but here the jokes fall flatter than Wile E. Coyote landing at the bottom of a mountain.
We don’t expect James to have his acting skills honed to a sharp edge, so we suffer no disappointment there. We do expect some funny stuff, what with a basketball game with cartoon characters on one side. The gags the toons pull just don’t make the cut. No one laughed even once in the theater. And way too much of the film does not involve the toons at all.
What did work was having the stands filled with every character from Universal Studios going back to the 1930s. Adults with quick eyes might spot Marilyn Monroe, Death from “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey,” and a pack of white walkers from “Game of Thrones.” But the 5-year-olds will not get the references nor will they enjoy the basketball luminaries.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” runs for 1 hour and 55 minutes. The PG-rated film, filled with cartoon characters, will no doubt entertain the smaller, younger slice of the children’s movie audience. Aside from seeing the NBA stars, the film holds little interest for adults. Only two sawblades for this warmed-over, half-baked reprise of an earlier film which, if not better technically, certainly entertained us better.
Fun fact: Neither LeBron James nor Zendaya has been in a lot of films. However, both of them did work in the 2018 film “Smallfoot.” Small world, this Hollywood word is, no?”