Twenty-five years after the Looney Tunes and Michael Jordan teamed up to take on the Monstars in “Space Jam,” it’s LeBron James’ turn to lace up his sneakers in “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”
Four NBA championships and four MVP awards later, and the rest is history. LeBron James — nicknamed King James — is living like royalty in his hillside mansion. He comes home one day only to see his son, Dom (Cedric Joe), goofing off again. A frustrated LeBron reiterates what his coach told him all those years ago: stay focused.
What LeBron fails to realize, though, is his son is not him. Dom doesn’t live for basketball like his father — Dom’s passion is video games.
LeBron still thinks Dom is wasting his childhood away, but he tries to be understanding. Since the two have had a bit of a strained relationship lately, LeBron invites Dom to come with him to Warner Bros. studios to hear a pitch that will make LeBron the face of their studio.
After a unique and ridiculous presentation from the artificial intelligence computer known as Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), LeBron quickly shuts it down and declines. This leads to another fight between LeBron and Dom, and before you know it, Al-G transports LeBron and Dom into the Warner Bros. virtual universe, after taking James’ disapproval personally.
Al-G agrees to let LeBron and Dom out of the universe on one condition: LeBron must assemble a basketball team to beat his. Al-G, with the help of a manipulated Dom, uses Dom’s video game characters to create a team filled with WNBA and NBA superstars.
Meanwhile, LeBron is stuck in Tune World, population of one. Bugs Bunny is the only tune left, and a desperate LeBron must convince Bugs to round up and locate the other tunes to do something that sounds a bit familiar: win a basketball game as if their lives depend on it.
If you weren’t aware Warner Bros. is the studio that made “Space Jam: A New Legacy” before watching the film, you’ll be well aware once the end credits roll. After an enormous amount of plugs — one could argue as shameless — the studio may be guilty of going a bit too far.
The comparisons between this film and the original “Space Jam” will be a never-ending source of conversation and dialogue, but there are really more differences than there are similarities. With the constant Warner Bros. plugs, cheesy one-liners and jokes that are more layups than slam dunks, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is far from innovative material.
LeBron James is not an outstanding actor, but hey, give the guy a break. He’s one of the best basketball players in the history of the game — he’s not Denzel Washington. And the plot and film’s absurd villain, Al-G Rhythm, are probably as plausible as can be in a film that has LeBron James passing the ball to Foghorn Leghorn.
The kids will get a kick out of the film, as that’s who this film was made for. It takes a bit longer than it should for the Tunes to show up, but the kids’ eyes will light up as they see Bugs Bunny’s signature ears tower on the screen in front of them.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” may be nostalgic, but it does little to build a new legacy.