I despised the original Space Jam, released 25 years ago. With the release of its sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy, I went back and watched the original again.
I still hate it. It’s a sloppy mess, although the stuff with Michael Jordan playing baseball is funny.
Space Jam: A New Legacy gives LeBron James a chance to have his big-screen moment in what is essentially the same movie, with the aliens being replaced by a villainous computer algorithm played by Don Cheadle. James gets trapped with his son in a computer, and they are forced to play a basketball game against some hybrid videogame characters.
The result: It’s better than the original—but it still isn’t good.
For starters, James makes Jordan look like a master thespian. Jordan’s natural charm was the best thing about the original, while James is totally wooden. The film wisely turns him into a cartoon character inside of a computer for a good chunk of its nearly two-hour running time.
About that two-hour running time: The final basketball game in this movie is almost as long as a regulation NBA game. In other words … it’s freaking long. The basketball audience is full of Warner Bros. characters like the Flintstones, the Jetsons, King Kong, the Iron Giant and … oh yeah, the Pennywise clown from It and the violent Droogs from A Clockwork Orange. It’s strange to find the latter two in a kiddie movie, but considering that many of those who saw the original Space Jam upon its release are in their 30s now, adults might get a kick out of it.
Fans of the original will be OK with this sequel. Even though A New Legacy is too long, the action comes together better than it did in the slapdash original, and the father-son story at its core is kind of sweet. This is not my cup of tea, but the kids will like the videogame stuff, and the adults will have fun spotting multiple versions of the Joker in the basketball crowd.
James, like Jordan before him, should not pursue a post-basketball career in the entertainment industry. Two hours of him looking lost standing next to Bugs Bunny is where his acting career should end.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is playing at theaters across the valley, and is streaming on HBO Max.